Objective: To determine the referred pain pattern of the abductor pollicis longus muscle.
Design: Intramuscular hypertonic saline was injected into the abductor pollicis longus of 15 healthy adults to induce muscle pain. Subjects completed pain drawings depicting the pain distribution. The drawings were transferred into the Pain Chart System for analysis.
Results: Referred pain distributions were as follows: the radial aspect of the wrist (61.9%), the dorsal aspects of the third and fourth fingers (14.3%), and a combination of the two distribution patterns (23.8%).
Conclusion: Referred pain patterns of the abductor pollicis longus resemble the C6, 7, and 8 dermatomes, the superficial radial sensory nerve distribution, and are very similar to the area of pain experienced in de Quervain's tenosynovitis. Thus, identification of the abductor pollicis longus trigger point should be considered in pain of the radial aspect of the wrist and thumb, especially when no other neurologic abnormalities or inflammatory conditions are present.