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Home > Why is My Thumb Twitching and What Does it Mean?

Why is My Thumb Twitching and What Does it Mean?

Robert J. Snyder, MD

Robert J. Snyder, MD

All of us have had a twitch or tic in our body from time to time – a small, involuntary muscle contraction that occurred repeatedly for no reason, lasted a short time and then went away. While mildly frightening or amusing, these little twitches are usually nothing to be concerned about.  However, if they keep happening, there may be an underlying cause that needs to be investigated.  In this article, we are going to discuss thumb twitching and what to do about it when it becomes worrisome.

Most cases of thumb twitching are idiopathic, meaning we do not know exactly why they happen.  Some say they happen due to nerve disorders causing a tremor in the muscle of the thumb.

Common Causes of Muscle tremors:

  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much caffeine
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety

Since that list encompasses the entire human population at one time or another, chances are good you too may have a thumb or muscle twitch!  Obviously, you can apply home remedies to the above issues, but if those do not work, you may wind up in my office for a consultation.

If you come in for a consultation, I am going to do x-rays of your thumb to make sure that there are no mechanical issues that may be impinging on the nerves in your hand or thumb causing the twitch.  I am also going to do a thorough physical examination and touch your hand and thumb and ask you to move it and perform some movements for me. Occasionally, patients will present with cysts, tumors, or other growths, called neuromas, in their hands that can impinge on nerves or muscles, that could be causing the twitching.

I will also ask you about the medications that you are taking as some may cause muscle twitching.

For treatment of your thumb twitching, I may prescribe a muscle relaxant medication to break the cycle of twitching and to get the muscle to relax.  I may also prescribe Physical Therapy to help ease muscle strain of the thumb and to teach you how to properly use your hand for tasks. The Physical Therapist has many healing modalities, including laser therapy, deep tissue and manual therapy, and dry needling, that can get deep into the muscle to help it let go and stop spasming.  I may also prescribe a thumb brace for you to wear while your thumb heals.

Cysts can be drained or removed, and depending upon their type and location, may or may not require outpatient surgery. I would refer any tumors I found to an Oncologist to best decide how to proceed with treatment.  Neuromas are actually nerve tissue that becomes inflamed due to pinching or impingement.  These are typically treated with steroids injections to reduce their inflammation.

If all those treatments lead us nowhere and you have a sustained muscle tremor, I may suggest further testing to look at a few different disorders known to cause tremors, such as Parkinson’s.  I would refer you to a Neurologist for this testing or to your PCP to arrange this.  Working with other physicians, we could hopefully get to the root cause of the symptom of thumb twitching.

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