Skier’s Thumb

A skier’s thumb is an injury to the ligament that connects the bones of the thumb. Thumb ligament tears often occur during skiing injuries, when one falls with a ski pole strapped to the hand. However, it can also occur with any injury that bends the thumb abnormally backward or sideways.

Within minutes or hours following the injury the following symptoms may become apparent:

  • Pain at the thumb base, in the index finger and intervening web space
  • Thumb swelling
  • Loss of grip strength between the index finger and the thumb
  • Tenderness along the side of the thumb adjacent to the index finger
  • Bluish black skin discoloration over the injury site
  • Pain in the thumb that is exacerbated with movement
  • Wrist pain.

After discussing your symptoms, the doctor will perform a physical exam to evaluate your thumb in detail testing strength, range of motion, and sensation. An X-ray may be ordered to rule out any fracture.

Initially, conservative treatment in the form of rest, ice application, immobilization and pain medication is recommended. If there is complete rupture of the ligament, a surgical repair may be required. Following surgery, your hand will be placed in a cast while the ligament heals. After healing is complete, physical therapy may be recommended to regain strength and range of motion of the thumb.

  • The American Board of  Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Allegheny General Hospital
  • University of Pittsburgh  Medical Center
  • University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
  • American Society for Surgery of the Hand
  • American Association for Hand Surgery: AAHS
  • Alpha Omega Alpha