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Definition of Sprained Thumb

A sprained thumb is an injury of an important ligament in the thumb and is also called ‘Skier's thumb'. Ligaments are soft tissues that connect bones to make a joint function smoothly.

The sprained thumb occurs due to over bending of the thumb than its normal capacity, which damages the ulnar collateral ligament that supports the joint at the bottom of the thumb.

Causes of Sprained Thumb

Sprained thumb is caused when a person falls and tries to balance hitting the ground with his arms. The movement made while landing on the ground may lead to stretching or tearing of the ulnar ligament.

Sprained thumbs are common in sportsmen.

Symptoms of Sprained Thumb

The symptoms of sprained thumb include:

  • Swelling, tenderness and bruising on the joint
  • Excessive pain
  • Unable to grasp things
  • Instability in the joint

Diagnosis of Sprained Thumb

The doctor will diagnose the thumb of the person by moving it in different directions and checking the stability of the thumb joint. In some cases, the doctor may also recommend X-ray tests to make sure that the bone is not broken.

Stress x-ray, is a type of x-ray that helps in determining the injured ligament. The doctor may also use local anesthesia while conducting the test to avoid pain.

Then the doctor compares the x-ray of uninjured thumb with the injured thumb.

Treatment for Sprained Thumb

The treatment of sprained thumb can be done both surgically and non-surgically.

Surgical Treatment

Surgery may be needed if the injury is serious and the ulnar ligament is completely torn. Surgery helps in regaining the normal movement and reconnecting the ligaments with bone. It may take around 6 to 8 weeks of time for the ligament to heal.

Non-surgical Treatment

In case if the ligament is partially torn, the doctor will use bandage, splint or cast to ensure that no thumb movement is done until it heals. The person can use an ice pack on the thumb to ease the swelling and pain. The doctor may also suggest some thumb strengthening exercise.

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