Skier’s Thumb – Reasons, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Prevention


Skier’s thumb is an acute partial or total rupture of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the thumb’s joint. As the name suggests, accidents during skiing adventures are the most prevalent causes of damage to the ligament injury.

Let’s explore it in detail.

What is the reason for the skier’s thumb?

It is natural to stretch your arms in front of you when you fall. People do this to lessen the shock from bumping the ground. With skiers and others who pitch forward, landing on the hand can tear or stretch the UCL (ulnar collateral ligament). Another cause of this damage is car accidents, with the driver’s thumb being impacted over the steering wheel. The skier’s thumb can emerge from any injury where the thumb is bent to the side or backward.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of skier’s thumb can happen in a few hours after the initial injury:

  1. Awkward Inflammation of the thumb.
  2. Pain at the bottom of the thumb and in the gaps between the index finger and thumb.
  3. Skin bruises over the inch.
  4. Tenderness along the thumb’s index finger side.
  5. Pain and Burning in the wrist

Diagnosis of Skier’s Thumb.

To know if you have a sprained thumb, the orthopedic professional will check your thumb in varying positions to learn if your joint is stable. Also, diagnosis depends on your symptoms, as well as the records of your injury. The doctor may perform X-rays to evaluate the joint with tension applied to the injured ligament. Also, the doctor will check for the normal functioning of the three principal nerves of your hand.

What is the procedure to treat the skier’s thumb?

  1. Nonsurgical Treatment: Nonsurgical treatment depends on whether the ligament is partially torn, stretched, or entirely torn. If only stretched or partially torn, the surgeon will immobilize your thumb joint with a bandage or splint until it heals. To relieve swelling and pain, it will be advised to apply ice five to six times daily. You will wear the bandage or splint for around a month. After a stipulated amount of time, you will do thumb exercises. Physical therapy assists with this. This will continue for another fortnight.
  2. Surgical Treatment: When the UCL is entirely torn, surgery is necessary. This method includes reconnecting the ligament to the bone to retrieve normal movement. With a skier’s thumb injury, the bone’s pieces may be pulled away with the torn ligament. These types of damages need fixation with a screw or pin. After your surgical system, you will wear a short arm cast or splint for around a month while the ligament heals.

How to prevent skier’s thumb?

Prevention is better than cure. If you ski, you should abandon the ski pole when you bend. Stumbling onto an outstretched hand without the pole will reduce your chance of a sprained thumb. It would help if you also use a ski pole with finger-groove grips without restricting devices such as a wrist strap or closed grip.

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