Hit the Slopes and Got Skier's Thumb? Here are Your Treatment Options

You may not realize how important your thumb is to daily function, until you injure it. Your thumb is a complex mix of soft tissue and bone. When the soft tissue that attaches the bones together, known as the ligaments, is overstretched, you experience pain and difficulty with grasping.

Often this injury occurs in avid skiers. It happens when you fall onto an outstretched hand with a ski pole in the palm of your hand. The force stresses the thumb and can stretch the ligament. But any incident in which the thumb bends abnormally backward or to the side can cause skier’s thumb.

Skier’s thumb accounts for 8-10% of all skiing accidents. At Maryland Orthopedic Specialists, we don’t want an injured thumb to prevent you from enjoying your winter sports. If you’re in the Bethesda or Germantown, Maryland, areas, consult with us to figure out your treatment options. Read on to learn what these may include. 

With proper therapy and rehab, you can return to work and skiing in a short amount of time.

How do I know I have skier’s thumb?

Signs and symptoms of skier’s thumb include pain at your thumb’s base, particularly in the webbing between your thumb and index finger. You may also experience:

You may also have pain in the thumb when you move it in any direction. Your wrist may even exhibit some pain, referred from your thumb.

Will I need surgery?

An overstretched or partially torn ligament of the thumb often responds well to splinting or casting. The immobilization allows for the thumb area to heal, and no surgery is necessary.

Plan on wearing the splint or cast for at least six weeks. This gives your thumb ligaments enough time to heal.

Even in cases of a completely torn ligament, immobilization may be enough for proper healing. We order an MRI to evaluate your tear. If it’s in a good healing position, it may heal on its own without surgery.

But if you have a fully torn ligament that needs to be repositioned, surgery may be required. You’ll usually undergo a procedure involving a suture anchor. We place you in a lightweight cast for at least four weeks following surgery as the ligament heals. 

Following surgery, physical therapy helps you restore natural movement and get back to the slopes and other activities using your hand.

We perform the surgical procedure on an outpatient basis, so you go home the same day.

If you have pain in your thumb following a skiing accident or other trauma, don’t just hope it goes away on its own. Call us at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists to schedule a full evaluation of your injury and get a thorough treatment plan. With rest, surgery, and rehabilitation, you can get back to skiing and other activities sooner rather than later.

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