Complex, multidimensional thumb movements generated by individual extrinsic muscles

Zong Ming Li, Jie Tang, Matthew Chakan, Rodrigo Kaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to investigate three-dimensional thumb joint movements produced by individual extrinsic thumb muscles. Ten cadaveric arms were dissected to expose the musculotendinous junctions of the flexor pollicis longus (FPL), abductor pollicis longus (APL), extensor pollicis brevis (EPB), and extensor pollicis longus (EPL). Each muscle/tendon was loaded to 10% of its maximal force capability whereas three-dimensional angular movements of the carpometacarpal (CMC), metacarpophalangeal (MCP), and interphalangeal (IP) joints were obtained simultaneously. We found that each extrinsic muscle produced unique joint angular trajectories in multiple directions. The FPL, APL, EBP, and EPL generated two, two, three, and six movements, respectively. The extrinsic muscles all together generated eight movements among the multiple thumb joints. High interjoint coordination was shown between the MCP joint flexion and IP joint flexion by FPL loading, as well as between the MCP joint extension and IP joint extension by EPL loading. High intrajoint coordination was observed between extension and supination at the CMC joint by the APL, EPL, and EPB. We concluded that each muscle produces movements in multiple joints and/or in multiple anatomical directions. The findings provide a novel insight into the biomechanical roles of the extrinsic muscles of the thumb.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1289-1295
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Hand
  • Kinematics
  • Muscle
  • Thumb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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