Remedies for skier’s thumb

Skier’s thumb is a prevalent condition that causes damage or ripping of the ligaments, joint capsule as well as the cartilage of the thumb. Compression or stretching forces are placed on the joints of the thumb when performing certain movements. Unnecessary forces such as overuse or heavy force can result to injury to the joint which can damage the cartilage or tear the ligaments or joint capsule.

Types of skier’s thumb are classified into first degree or mild, second degree or moderate and third degree or severe.

1st degree

  • Mild in nature
  • Ligaments are overstretched, but there is no tearing
  • Localized pain and swelling around the injured joint
  • Inability in extending and flexing due to the swelling inside the joint

2nd degree

Skier's thumb

Instability and laxity with severe swelling, pain and discoloration of the skin.

  • Strong impact on the ligaments and the joint capsule
  • Partial tearing of the ligament and joint capsule
  • This type of injury is caused by hyperextension of the joint beyond the normal range due to torn ligament.
  • Pain and swelling
  • Limited range of motion
  • Tenderness
  • Instability

3rd degree

  • Total rupture of the ligament and sometimes pulls away the bone from the distal attachment and result to avulsion fracture.
  • Partial dislocation
  • Instability and laxity with severe swelling, pain and discoloration of the skin.

Causes

  • Hyperextension force or a sideways force placed on the thumb
  • Repetitive strain and overuse such as continuous moving of the thumb
  • During skiing when one of the hand poles forcibly pushes the thumb backwards

Treatment

  • Take plenty of rest especially the affected area.
  • Tape or use a support to prevent further injury to the affected area.
  • Apply an ice pack on the affected area for at least 35 minutes at a time at 4 times every day to lessen the swelling and pain. Avoid applying the pack directly on the skin
  • Wrap using an Ace wrap or a wrist brace to prevent unnecessary movement of the thumb, lessen pain and promote fast healing of the condition. Avoid wrapping it too tight to prevent any disruption in the blood circulation in the area.
  • Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lessen the pain.
  • Seek the help of the physical therapist for some rehabilitation exercises for mobility and strengthening of the thumb.

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