Skiing is a fun way to stay in shape, but this sport can also cause a lot of injuries. If you fall, you could injure your ulnar collateral ligament, a ligament inside your thumb. The resulting injury is known as skier's thumb; here are four things you need to know about it.
How does this injury occur?
If you fall while holding your ski poles, the poles can force your thumb into an unnatural position. Hyperextension, twisting, or other unnatural positions can tear the ulnar collateral ligament within your thumb. The ligament may stretch or tear partially or completely, depending on the force of your fall and the position your thumb is forced into.
What are the signs of skier's thumb?
If you suffer this injury, your thumb will be sore and swollen. You may also see bruising in the area. The affected thumb may also be weak which can make it hard for you to pick up objects. If you notice these symptoms, make sure to seek medical attention from a clinic like Adult & Pediatric Orthopedics SC right away.
How is it treated?
The treatment for skier's thumb varies based on how severe the injury is. If your ligament is just stretched, and not torn, your treatment may involve resting your thumb and seeing a physiotherapist to learn helpful stretches.
If the ligament is partially torn, rest and stretching won't be enough. You'll need to wear a splint or a cast to hold your thumb in place while the ligament heals; healing can take five to six weeks.
If your ligament is completely torn, surgery will be required. This procedure is fairly simple. Your surgeon will make an incision in your thumb to access the ligament and then sew the ligament back together. You'll need to wear a splint or cast while you heal, which takes anywhere between six and eight weeks.
While you're healing, it's important to stay off the slopes. If you resume skiing before getting clearance from your doctor, you could make your injury worse. Generally, you need to avoid skiing for about six weeks after your cast or splint comes off, but your doctor may recommend a longer or shorter break from skiing.
Is skier's thumb common?
Skier's thumb is a very common injury. It makes up between 5% and 10% of all injuries to skiers. This makes it the most common upper extremity injury among skiers.
If your thumb is sore and bruised after a skiing accident, seek medical treatment right away because you might have skier's thumb.