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What Is the Abductor Digiti Minimi?

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  • Written By: Shelby Miller
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2014
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The abductor digiti minimi is a small muscle found in both the hands and the feet. Located on the same side of the hand and foot as the pinky finger and little toe along the outer surface of each appendage, this muscle is responsible for abduction. Abduction, in this case, is the action of pulling the smallest finger and toe laterally away from the other digits of the hand or foot — hence the name, abductor digiti minimi.

In the hand, this muscle is situated on the palm side beneath the pinky finger, running between the wrist and the metacarpophalangeal joint, the large knuckle at the base of the finger. It can easily be felt along the border of the palm and felt flexing when moving the pinky away from the other fingers. Here the abductor digiti minimi originates on the pisiform bone, a tiny bone roughly the size and shape of a pea found just distal to the wrist on the ulnar side of the hand, where the ulna bone in the forearm meets the carpal bones in the hand at the wrist. It then runs along the outside of the palm and inserts at the base of the proximal or nearest phalanx bone in the little finger along its outer or medial side.

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The abductor digiti minimi in the foot is an analogous muscle to that in the hand. It stretches between the ankle and the base of the pinky toe along the outside of the foot on its plantar surface, or sole. Originating on the lateral surface of the calcaneus or heel bone on its plantar side, this muscle runs along the lateral side of the foot toward the little toe, just before which it narrows into a tendon. This tendon attaches alongside the flexor digiti quinti brevis on the bottom of the proximal phalanx of that toe along its outer surface.

Both abductor digiti minimi muscles perform the same function, which is abduction of the smallest toe, by pulling outwardly on that toe during contraction. That of the foot, however, has an additional function of assisting in toe flexion, or curling it downward. This is due to its shared attachment with the flexor digiti quinti brevis, which flexes the pinky toe only. Because the two muscles are interwoven where they meet the proximal phalanx of the fifth toe, the abductor digiti minimi is necessarily involved in this motion.

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fify
Post 3

@burcinc-- I have had abductor digiti minimi pain before. Your doctor would be able to diagnose it for sure, but my pain was in the same location- at the outer side of the bottom of my heel on both of my feet.

Jogging is probably the cause of it, I wore out my muscles by running on rough ground. What you should do is try to keep off your feet and get lots of rest. You also need to be careful jogging in the future. Try to jog on grass or some other soft ground. Your doctor may tell you not to jog for some time to avoid a re-occurrence before it heals all together.

You should also wear comfortable shoes and doing some foot soaks and massage at home might help, along with analgesic topical creams for the pain.

burcinc
Post 2

I've been having really bad pain on one side of my heel for the past week. It hurts when I step on my foot and I have trouble walking. I think it happened while I was jogging but I jog almost daily and I've never experienced this before.

I got an appointment with my doctor finally but it's not until next week. Based on where the pain is, I think the cause is the abductor digiti minimi muscle.

What might have caused damage to this muscle and what should I do as a treatment?

Has anyone experienced this kind of injury and pain before?

serenesurface
Post 1

This is a really great article because I was able to follow the directions step by step and locate the abductor digiti minimi muscle in both my hand and foot! Great job to the WiseGEEK team for such a descriptive article.

I didn't even realize that I could move my pinky finger and toe outward like that. I wonder what is the anatomical need for this muscle and movement? I mean, if we didn't have the abductor digiti minimi muscles, how would our movement be restrained?

Off the top of my head, I imagine that we wouldn't be able to type very well without this muscle because I noticed that I move my pinky finger out a lot while I'm typing. It would probably make it harder to hold and carry various objects.

How about the abductor digiti minimi in the foot? What would happen if we didn't have it? Why do we need to move our pinky toes out like that?

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