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All About Skier’s Thumb

All About Skier’s Thumb

By 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.

All About Skier’s Thumb

What are the symptoms?

The major sign of this condition is the instability of the thumb accompanied by pain and weakness in the pinching motion. Basic injury can cause pain and swelling whereas a tear of the ligament me cause excruciating pain and complete loss of the movement of the thumb. Inflammation is one of the foremost signs.

What are the causes?

An accident or fall can cause an injury to the UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) of the thumb. Skiers are highly vulnerable to this condition and hence the injury is known as skier's thumb. Injuries of this ligament make up 8-10% of all skiing accidents. Falling on an outstretched hand with a ski pole in the palm of your hand stresses the thumb and stretches or tears the ligament. A simple fall on an outstretched hand with an empty palm usually does not do much damage. However, your thumb can also be injured if it jams into packed snow at high velocity. Another less common cause of this injury is an automobile crash when the driver has the thumb alone draped over the steering wheel. Any injury in which the thumb is abnormally bent backward or to the side can cause skier's thumb.

What are the treatment options?

Rest and rehabilitation is advised to the person who suffers and injury. Anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed by your doctor to reduce the swelling and the pain. Thumb splints and braces can help in the rehabilitation process and also serve as mediums to various therapies.

What are my options?

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  • 3pp ThumSling Long Thumb Splint is a lightweight, foam-lined splint that provides light support for both the wrist and thumb to reduce pain caused by thumb arthritis, ligament sprains or tendinitis. It provides adjustable compression and support without restricting motion.
  • Alimed Freedom CMC ThumbFit Thumb Splint reduces joint instability without disturbing hand function. This low-profile splint is remarkably comfortable and easy for users to apply and adjust. It helps to reduce thumb joint pain. It is ideal for any sport or activity requiring grip and pinch control.
  • Alimed Freedom Thumb Spica is ideal for De Quervains syndrome, MP and CMC arthritis, and repetitive motion injuries. The AliSoft shell is held by wide elastic straps. The strap replacement makes it possible for a non-rigid shell to effectively restrict motion and offer support. It is flexible enough to compensate for thumb volume changes.
  • 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.