Influence of age and gender on normative passive range of motion values of the carpometacarpal joint of the thumb

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Study Design:

Cross-sectional clinical measurement study.


The carpometacarpal (CMC) joint of the thumb is a complex joint making accurate measurement of range of motion (ROM) challenging. There are limited normative data available to base rehabilitative decisions, which is unfortunate as this joint is frequently affected by arthritis and is critical to hand function.

Purpose of the Study:

To provide passive ROM values for the first CMC joint and investigate the effects of age and gender.


Ninety-six healthy subjects were divided into 4 age groups of equal gender: 20-34, 35-49, 50-64, and 65+ years. Six-inch plastic universal goniometers were used to take 3 measurements of flexion, extension, and abduction of the dominant hand.


Mean ROM values were 21.7 ± 6.8 degrees of flexion, 19.5 ± 5.7 degrees of extension, and 51.1 ± 5.5 degrees of abduction. There was a weak negative correlation (r = −0.22; P = .03) between age and abduction and a difference between 2 age groups. No other relationship or difference due to age, gender, or interactions reached significance.


These normative ROM values for adults can be used by clinicians assessing patients for impaired motion at the CMC joint. No differences in flexion, extension, and abduction due to age and gender were supported, except for a small decrease (4.5°) in abduction in adults 65+ years compared with those of 35-49 years.

Level of Evidence:


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