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Adductor pollicis muscle: want to learn more about it?

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Adductor pollicis muscle

Adductor pollicis muscle (Musculus adductor pollicis)

Adductor pollicis is a triangular intrinsic muscle of the hand. It belongs to a group called thenar muscles, along with abductor pollicis, flexor pollicis brevis, and opponens pollicis. Thenar muscles are located on the radial (lateral) aspect of the hand where they form an elevation named the thenar eminence.

Adductor pollicis is comprised of two heads; oblique and transverse. This muscle extends from the third metacarpal and capitate bones to the base of the first proximal phalanx. The main action of this muscle is adduction of the thumb in the carpometacarpal joint.

In this article, we will discuss the anatomy and function of the adductor pollicis muscle.

Key facts about the adductor pollicis muscle
Origin Transverse head: Palmar base of metacarpal bone 3 
Oblique head: Capitate bone, palmar bases of metacarpal bones 2 & 3
Insertion Medial base of proximal phalanx 1 (via ulnar sesamoid bone)
Action Carpometacarpal joint 1: Thumb adduction
Innervation Deep branch of ulnar nerve (C8, T1)
Blood supply Deep palmar arch

Origin and insertion

Adductor pollicis arises by two heads which originate from different locations. The transverse head originates from the palmar base of the third metacarpal bone, while the oblique head originates from the capitate bone and palmar bases of second and third metacarpals. From their origin points, the two heads converge into one muscle belly as the fibers run laterally towards the thumb.

The muscle ends in a tendon that contains a sesamoid bone and inserts onto the base of the first proximal phalanx as well as its extensor hood.

Relations 

Adductor pollicis muscle is the largest and deepest of the thenar muscles. On its ventral aspect, adductor pollicis is crossed by the flexor tendons of the index finger, first lumbrical and flexor pollicis brevis muscles. On its dorsal aspect, the muscle is related to or even sometimes conjoined with the first dorsal interosseous muscle. In addition, the two heads of adductor pollicis comprise a passageway through which the deep branch of ulnar nerve, deep palmar arch and radial artery pass.

Innervation

Adductor pollicis muscle receives its innervation from the deep branch of ulnar nerve (root value C8, T1).

Blood supply

Adductor pollicis is vascularized by the deep palmar arterial arch, formed by the anastomosis of the radial artery and the deep palmar branch of ulnar artery.

Function

Adductor pollicis is the most powerful of the intrinsic muscles of the hand. Its main function is the adduction of the thumb which is the movement of the thumb towards the index finger from an abducted position. This action is essential for functions that require pinching and gripping. Additionally, the adductor pollicis aids the later stages of opposition of the thumb.

This movement is a combination of actions, namely abduction, medial rotation, flexion and adduction of the thumb so that it can touch each fingertip of the same hand. Thus, the strength of adductor pollicis can be tested by pushing the thumb against the index finger while the examiner attempts to pull them apart. 

Adductor pollicis muscle: want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

What do you prefer to learn with?

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

Show references

References:

  • Moore, K. L., Dalley, A. F., & Agur, A. M. R. (2014). Clinically Oriented Anatomy (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Palastanga, N., & Soames, R. (2012). Anatomy and human movement: structure and function (6th ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
  • Standring, S. (2016). Gray's Anatomy (41tst ed.). Edinburgh: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.
  • Netter, F. (2014). Atlas of Human Anatomy (6th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders.

Illustrations:

  • Adductor pollicis muscle (Musculus adductor pollicis) - Yousun Koh
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