Fine Finger Movement

Last Updated: May 26, 2019

Definition - What does Fine Finger Movement mean?

Fine finger movement is the process of coordination between small muscles in the hands and fingers that work together so that small, or precise, movements of the hands and fingers are synchronized with the eyes. These movements and skills are obtained by learning to use smaller muscles located in the hands, fingers, and wrists when holding small items, buttoning clothing, turning pages, eating, cutting food, writing, and using keyboards. Fine finger movement skills are controlled by the nervous system and include the muscular, skeletal, and neurological functions to produce small, precise movements. Typically these movements develop during childhood and are honed over time as a person ages. Fine finger movement is also called fine motor skill or dexterity.

WorkplaceTesting explains Fine Finger Movement

In order to test for fine finger movement, there is a motor exam that has several steps including observation, inspection, palpation, muscle tone testing, functional testing, and individual muscle group testing. Doctors or physical and occupational therapists typically conduct these tests.

There are certain injuries and diseases that affect fine finger movement and dexterity. For example, an injury to the ulnar, medial, or radial nerves (which can be found in the arms and hands) can affect hand and wrist motion and dexterity. Injury to the ulnar nerve is specifically an issue since this nerve controls the signals to many of the smaller muscles in the hand. If this nerve is damaged and not repaired immediately, or the repair does not restore full function, a person will be unable to regain all of their previous fine finger movements. This condition, often called Ulnar Nerve Palsy, creates a tingling or complete loss of sensation in the fourth and fifth fingers accompanied by pain or muscle weakness. This in turn causes a loss of sensation and coordination in the hand and can mean decreased grip strength and even a burning sensation. Any nerve issue in the hand can affect fine finger movements and a lack of control that may increase with physical activity.


In the workplace, fine finger movement is a concern in workers who need to perform delicate operations or work with small tools. Even office workers need fine finger movement in order to complete tasks such as typing with speed and efficiency.

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