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Skier’s Thumb

What is Skiers Thumb?

Skier’s thumb is an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament which is an important stabilising joint of the ‘knuckle joint’ of the thumb. This joint is used for pinching and gripping with the thumb. It is possible to have swelling and pain where the thumb joins the hand.

What causes skier’s thumb?

Skier’s thumb is usually caused by an injury when the thumb is pulled or pushed away from the hand. This can be due to sports such as baseball skiing or forceful tackle. This injury can be a mild tear to a complete tear or it can be the ligament itself.

How do I know if I have skier’s thumb?

You may have Skier’s Thumb if:

  • It is painful to grip or pinch something with your thumb.
  • Your thumb is swollen or sore to touch

You will be able to be diagnosed by your physiotherapist, they will preform tests to understand the ability and severity of the injured thumb. An X-ray may be needed to ensure you do not have a fracture.

How can physiotherapy help with skier’s thumb?

Physiotherapy can help with Skiers Thumb, if it is a partial tear your physiotherapist will fit you with a splint for up to 6 weeks ensuring that you do not injure yourself any further. This can also reduce pain. Having a splint will allow you to do some of your normal activities. When your injury is improving it may be suggested that you complete some strengthening exercises which your physiotherapist will show you how to do these.

How effective is physiotherapy for skier’s thumb?

Physiotherapy treatments have been proven with patients who have a partial tear can regain full movement, strength and function. Whilst in more severe case where surgery is needed, physiotherapy is vital after the operation, to splint, support the repaired ligament and management the recovery.

What can I do at home?

You should ensure you follow the directions of your GP or physiotherapist. You must rest your hand and put ice and compression on when necessary. It is important that you avoid pinching and gripping. Once your physiotherapist has assessed you, you will be told the extent of activities that are safe to complete with your injury. You will need to complete at home exercises at the appropriate time of your recovery.

How long will my recovery be?

Depending upon the severity of your injury will depend on the time it will take to recover, for partial tears symptoms should improve once splinted whilst mild sprains may need a few days to weeks. Severe sprain may take up to a few months to achieve approximately 80-90% of strength.

If you would like to find out more please call us or book an appointment here.

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Reference: Australian Physiotherapy Association 2019, Your Body, viewed 19 November 2019, < https://australian.physio/>.