What Is Sprained Thumb?
Your hands and wrists are essential tools that allow you to work, play and perform everyday activities. How well the hand and wrist interact depends on the integrity and function of the ligaments, tendons, muscles, joints and bones.
Problems in any of these can affect upper extremity function, causing disruptions at home and work and negatively impacting quality of life.
The human hand itself is very complex and delicate in structure. At some time in life, you may experience hand or wrist pain.
A stable thumb is very important for pinch and grasp activities. A thumb sprain is an injury to the main ligament in the thumb.
Ligaments are soft tissue structures that connect two bones to make a stable joint.
If you tear the main ligament (ulnar collateral ligament) at the base of your thumb, your pinch and grasp ability will be weak.
What Causes Sprained Thumb?
When you fall, it is natural to extend your arms to reduce the impact from hitting the ground. The way you land on your hand can stretch or tear the ulnar collateral ligament.
A spill on the ski slopes with your hand strapped to a ski pole can also injure your thumb. When this is the cause of the sprain, it is often called a “skier’s thumb.”
What Are The Symptoms of Sprained Thumb?
A sprained thumb weakens your ability to grasp items between your thumb and index finger. There may or may not be pain right away. Other symptoms include bruising, tenderness, and swelling.
See a Wisconsin Bone & Joint doctor as soon as possible to ensure that the injury will not cause long-term weakness, pain, and instability.
What Are The Treatment Options For Sprained Thumb?
If the ligament is only partially torn, your doctor will probably immobilize your thumb joint with a bandage, cast, or splint until it heals. To ease pain and swelling, you can place an ice pack on your thumb twice a day for 2 to 3 days after the injury.
For the first 3 weeks after your injury, you will wear the splint or cast at all times. After that, you can take it off to do strengthening exercises for your thumb. The splint should be worn at all other times. This should continue for another 2 or 3 weeks, until the swelling and tenderness in the thumb are gone.
If the ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb is completely torn, surgery may be needed to regain normal movement. Surgery involves reconnecting the ligament to the bone.
When the ligament tears away from the bone, sometimes fragments of bone are pulled away with it. If this is the case, then during surgery, the bone fragments may be removed or put back into the correct position and fixed with a pin or screw.
After surgery, a short arm cast or a splint will be necessary for 6 to 8 weeks to protect the thumb ligament while it heals.
Our team is here for you
When conservative care and treatment is appropriate, we offer the best, least invasive, least aggressive treatment options to relieve your pain and discomfort. When an injury is more serious and conservative care is not an option, our orthopedic surgeons provide the latest in innovative surgical interventions available with the goal of getting you back to the life you love. Wisconsin Bone & Joint physicians offer orthopedic services at three convenient locations in Mayfair, Glendale and Cedarburg.