In 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.
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.
Common symptoms are:
If surgery is needed, the ligament is reconnected to the bone.
Make an ice pack by putting ice in a zip lock 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 medications without a prescription.
As you recover, your health care provider will check how well your thumb is healing. He or she will tell you when you can remove your cast or splint and start doing your normal activities.
At some point as you recover, your health care 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.
Call your health care provider or go to the emergency room right away if you have:
Also call your health care provider if you have concerns about how well your thumb is healing.
Sprained thumb, stable thumb,ulnar collateral ligament injury, gamekeeper’s thumb
Lyn ET, Mailhot T. Hand. In: Marx JA. ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7thed. Philadelphia, Pa. Mosby Elsevier, 2009: chap 47.
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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