Thumb sprains are simply tears in the ligaments that are responsible for connecting the thumb to the hand. Most cases of thumb sprains involve the major ligament beneath the thumb on the interior of the hand.
This ligament usually ends up sprained once an individual fall on his/her hand while holding a ski pole which is why it is oftentimes called skier’s thumb. It can also be injured if the thumb is jammed backwards on hard surfaces during falls or on a ball. Repeated overstretching of the joint can also rip the ligament.
What are the indications?
Once the thumb is sprained, there is difficulty holding objects between the thumb and the index finger. In most instances, the thumb is swollen, painful and oftentimes bruised. The thumb might stay weak and unstable after the injury.
Diagnosing thumb sprains
One way the doctors determines whether the ligament is torn and how bad is by asking the individual to move the injured thumb in various ways. The doctor will also attempt to move the thumb.
Oftentimes, before the doctor assesses the affected thumb, a local anesthetic is administered close to the damaged thumb to make the examination less painful. The doctor will also check the uninjured thumb and compare it with the affected thumb.
An X-ray is taken from several angles to check for the presence of fractures. The X-ray is taken while the doctor places pressure on the injured thumb.
How to care for thumb sprains
In most cases of thumb sprains, the thumb is immobilized using a thumb spica splint. This splint is used for several weeks until the ligament heals. After a few weeks, the splint can be taken off to perform strengthening exercises and the splint is placed back again. This regimen usually lasts for 2-3 weeks.
If the ligament is severely torn or a broken piece of bone requires to be placed back in its position, surgery is required. Take note that surgery is also a suitable option if the ligament does not heal after under a splint for several weeks. After the surgery, the individual has to use a short arm cast or splint for 6-8 weeks.