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A Brief Guide to Treatment of Skier’s Thumb

A Brief Guide to Treatment of Skier’s Thumb
Taikhum Sadiq

What is Skier’s Thumb?

The ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb is a ligament that runs through the ulnar side of the thumb and is responsible for the flexing of the thumb. It stabilizes the thumb and provides flexibility. Injury or tear of this ligament is called skier’s thumb or gamekeeper’s thumb. This condition is commonly observed among gamekeepers, Scottish fowl hunters, and skiers, as well as athletes such as volleyball players. It also occurs among people who sustain a fall onto an outstretched hand. The stability of the thumb is important as it is contributes to the grasping function of the hand. In severe cases, the ligament can tear permanently and would require surgery.

A Brief Guide to Treatment of Skier’s Thumb

Symptoms of Skier’s Thumb

One of the major signs of skier’s thumb is the instability of the thumb itself. The growing pain and weakness of the thumb add to the signs. If the person has sustained an injury on or near the thumb then the part near the ulnar collateral ligament gets swollen and sharp pain is experienced. If a person has a doubt whether the ligament has been injured or not, they can exercise their thumb in a pinching motion to check for damage. If sharp pain is experience in the region, then it is given that the ligament has been damaged. Inflammation is common result of the tearing of the ligament will occur just after the ligament has been damaged. Slowly and steadily, the pain increases and medical attention becomes a necessity. These are the basic signs one should look out for:

  • Unstable thumb
  • Weakness and increasing pain
  • Sharp pin prick like pain
  • Inflammation
  • Redness or soreness

Causes of Skier’s Thumb

Accidents or falls are some of the most common reasons of a person acquiring a skier’s thumb. The ulnar collateral ligament is not weak but is definitely vulnerable to sudden jerks and excessive strain or stress. 8-10% of all those who get suffer from skier’s thumb get injured in skiing accidents and hence the name of the condition.

Falling down with an outstretched arm and land directly on the palm with pole, puts immense pressure on the thumb, tearing the ulnar collateral ligament.

Automobile accidents are also mildly responsible for this condition as the thumb might get injured while the hand is on the steering wheel. Jabbing of the thumb in the backward position or in a way that the joint is not supposed to move, can injure the ulnar collateral ligament.

A Brief Guide to Treatment of Skier’s Thumb

Precautions to Avoid Complications

  • One of the major reasons of this injury is that skiers do not discard the pole once a fall is ensued. Skiers must be instructed to discard the pole as soon as they realize that they will fall to the ground.
  • The poles generally used for skiing has wrist grips. This should be changed, and instead, poles with finger grooves should be used to minimize the chances of injuries.
  • Also while driving, a person should keep their thumbs to the outside of the steering wheel so as to minimize the chances of damaging the ulnar collateral ligament, in a case where the car takes a jerk or gets into an accident.

What are the treatment options?

Thumb Splints

Thumb Splints are one of the most commonly used solutions to immobilize a joint so that any kind of movement of jerk does not damage the joint or muscles. They stabilize the joint and help in the healing process. They allow the skin to breathe and thus expedite healing.

3pp Oval-8 Finger Splint

3pp Oval-8 Finger Splint stabilizes and aligns finger IP joints to enhance hand function. With a simple turn of the splint, this FSA-approved Oval-8 Finger Splint can be used to correct swan neck, boutonniere, and mallet deformities, reduce lateral deviation and rest trigger finger. It has adjustable sizing built right in to accommodate mild edema or changes in finger size due to temperature or time of day.

Features of 3pp Oval-8 Finger Splint

  • This finger splint features a wide, flat band for comfortable pressure distribution and control.
  • Made of 1/16" (16mm), high-temperature polypropylene.
  • Can be adjusted with a heat gun for a small angle alteration. Fits both a full and a half ring size.
  • Keeps skin clean and dry.
  • Can be worn in water or when bathing.
  • Ideal for daily use.
  • Angled band allows Oval-8 splint to fit tighter or looser depending on which end is placed on the finger first.

Comfort Cool Thumb CMC Restriction Splint - Black

Comfort Cool Thumb CMC Restriction Black Splint provides direct support for the thumb CMC joint while allowing full finger function. It is made of thin perforated neoprene with a terry cloth liner that helps keep skin cool and comfortable. CMC Comfort Cool Splint features reinforced stitching that allows the splint to be trimmed below the thumb MP joint if desired and is specifically designed for osteoarthritis and medial subluxation of the thumb CMC joint.

Features of Comfort Cool CMC Splint

  • Provides gentle compression that helps relieve thumb discomfort associated with CMC joint arthritis and/or instability, tendinitis or repetitive motion
  • Contoured neoprene strap wraps around the thumb CMC joint and the first metacarpal for direct CMC joint support
  • Plus sizes are a half size bigger in the hand and a full size larger in thumb circumference to accommodate enlarged thumb conditions
  • Hand wash and air dry

Thumb Spica

Thumb Spicas are one-piece systems that immobilize the complete thumb and the wrist. This is usually helpful if a number of tendons and muscles have been affected due to an injury. It makes the hand completely immovable with only the four fingers being allowed to move. It has to be cut once the motive has been accomplished.

Freedom SoftGel Thumb Spica

Freedom SoftGel Thumb Spica combines the support of a thumb spica with mineral oil-infused gel to soothe and shape the surgical incision. The semi-rigid splint offers protection from trauma and is held in place by wide elastic straps for greater comfort. The AliPlast shell consists of heat-moldable foam that can be spot-adjusted with a heat gun or easily trimmed with scissors.

Features of Freedom SoftGel Thumb Spica

  • Washable and ventilated
  • Place 1/8" thick gel insert anywhere in the splint interior
  • Gel inserts to cushion and protect injuries and encourage healing

Alimed Freedom Wrist And Thumb Spica

Alimed Freedom Wrist and Thumb Spica has a long thumb post and provides full support for the wrist. This spica is used to restrict all motion of the wrist and thumb and can be trimmed back with scissors later when IP joint motion is allowed. It can be used for sports injuries, collateral ligament support, carpal tunnel syndrome, and acute rheumatoid arthritis.

Features of Alimed Freedom Thumb Spica

  • Restrict movement of the joints of the thumb to allow healing and help decrease swelling
  • Preformed perforated base made from flexible foam laminated to comfortable cotton-blend terry cloth
  • Relieves CTS pain with thumb support
  • Ideal for Skier’s Thumb, De-Quervains & Rheumatoid Arthritis

Extension Kits

Extension kits allow the use of one or more splints to keep the thumb in the desired position so as to help in the healing of the tendons and muscles.

Base 2 Aluminium Multi-Digit MP Extension Kit

Base 2 Aluminium Multi-Digit MP Extension Kit is made of lightweight aluminum for quick and easy fabrication and alignment of dynamic and static progressive splints. The kit includes all the parts needed for one or more styles of dynamic splints. It therefore allows the convenience of having all the necessary components for a specific dynamic splint together in one kit.

Features of Base 2 Aluminum Multi-Digit Extension Kit

  • Economical outrigger components with the adjustability of more complex outriggers
  • Outriggers can be bent easily by hand or with pliers
  • Pre-tied finger cuffs are made of ultra-suede
  • Wingnuts, thumb screws and line guides are made from plastic and metal

Base 2 Aluminium Thumb Extension Kit

Base 2 Aluminium Thumb Extension Kit is made of lightweight aluminum for quick and easy fabrication and alignment of dynamic and static progressive splints. The kit includes all the parts needed for one or more styles of dynamic splints. It, therefore, allows the convenience of having all the necessary components for a specific dynamic splint together in one kit.

Features of Base 2 Aluminum Extension Kit

  • Economical outrigger components with the adjustability of more complex outriggers
  • Outriggers can be bent easily by hand or with pliers
  • Pre-tied finger cuffs are made of ultra-suede
  • Wing nuts, thumb screws and line guides are made from plastic and metal

Thumb Supports and Braces

Thumb Braces are more useful once the rehab has begun for the injury. They make sure that all the shock and strain is absorbed so that the healing or healed thumb doesn’t undergo any injury again. They can be used as a method of prevention as well.

Push MetaGrip Thumb CMC Orthosis

Push MetaGrip Thumb CMC Orthosis is the most effective, streamlined, and durable brace for the relief of thumb CMC (basal joint) osteoarthritis. It can be worn while cooking, golfing, gardening, playing tennis, driving, knitting, and during all other work/household activities.

Features of Push MetaGrip CMC Orthosis

  • The sophisticated solution to Thumb CMC Osteoarthritis
  • Provides CMC joint stability for pain-free thumb mobility
  • Provides the most support when it is needed the most
  • Facilitates balanced use of the stabilizing thumb muscles

ALPS Universal Thumb Brace

ALPS Universal Thumb Brace restricts motion to wrist, thumb, and metacarpal joints following surgery or injury. The thumb is immobilized in a natural position, relieving pain and helping to prevent re-injury. The brace contains a removable, metal stay on the palmar surface for custom fit and adjustment. Its adjustable thumb strap enhances ease of application and patient fit.

Features of ALPS Universal Thumb Brace

  • ALPS Universal Thumb Brace is made of lightweight and durable fabric
  • Thumb spica supports and protects the thumb
  • Soft comfortable liner with stretch and support

The injuries of the thumb often cause pain in the entire arm and hand as the muscles in the thumb are responsible for the execution of all the work the upper muscles do. The correct treatment methods can heal the injuries within weeks and allow a person to resume their daily activities with ease.


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.

HPFY Taikhum Sadiq

Taikhum Sadiq

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Taikhum Sadiq has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2016.

He is an archaeology student and is passionate about learning about the past and how it impacts our future. He believes ...

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