Skier's thumb - aftercare
With this injury, the main ligament in your thumb is stretched or torn. The ligament is a strong fiber that attaches one bone to another bone.
This injury can be caused by any kind of fall with your thumb stretched out. It often occurs during skiing.
At home, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions on how to take care of your thumb so that it heals well.
Sprained thumb; Stable thumb; Ulnar collateral ligament injury; Gamekeeper's thumb
More About Your Injury
Thumb sprains can be mild to severe. They are ranked by how much the ligament is pulled or torn away from the bone.
Injuries that are not treated properly can lead to long-term weakness, pain, or arthritis.
An x-ray may also show if the ligament has pulled off a piece of bone. This is called an avulsion fracture.
What to Expect
Common symptoms are:
If surgery is needed, the ligament is reconnected to the bone.
Relieving Your Symptoms
Make an ice pack by putting ice in a plastic bag and wrapping a cloth around it.
For pain, you can use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and others) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, and others). You can buy these medicines without a prescription.
As you recover, your provider will check how well your thumb is healing. You will be told when your cast or splint can be removed and you can return to your normal activities.
At some point as you recover, your provider will ask you to begin exercises to regain movement and strength in your thumb. This may be as soon as 3 weeks or as long 8 weeks after your injury.
When you restart an activity after a sprain, build up slowly. If your thumb begins to hurt, stop using it for a while.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider or go to the emergency room right away if you have:
Also call your provider if you have concerns about how well your thumb is healing.
Merrell G, Hastings H. Dislocations and ligament injuries of the digits. In: Wolfe SW, Hotchkiss RN, Pederson WC, Kozin SH, Cohen MS, eds. Green's Operative Hand Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 8.
Stearns DA, Peak DA. Hand. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 43.
Review Date: 10/11/2018
Reviewed By: Jesse Borke, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, Attending Physician at FDR Medical Services/Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Buffalo, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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