Symptoms of Sprained Thumb and Its Recovery Time after Treating

A sprained thumb, also known as a ‘skier’s thumb’, is an injury that affects the main ligament of the thumb called the ulnar collateral ligament. Depending on the extent of the injury, healing can take up to 6 weeks. The complete tearing of the main ligament is a characteristic of this trait.

In some instances it can cause an avulsion fracture. This occurs when parts of the bone that hold the ligament together are torn off.

An injured thumb can cause future problems with the patient’s pincher grasp. Sprains often happen after a fall. A fall during skiing can cause this injury as a person’s thumbs are strapped to the poles while skiing.

Symptoms of Sprained Thumb

  • Weakened grasp. Weakness lasts longer than a few hours following the injury.

  • Pain. The pain may not occur immediately after the injury.

  • Bruising

  • Instability of the thumb

Diagnostic Tests

The following diagnostic tests may be prescribed to patients who are suspected of having a sprained thumb.

  • Physical Examination.

    The doctor is going to check out the signs of a sprain. Palpation of any broken bone may be anticipated.

  • Imaging Studies, a special radiographic test involves applying tension on the injured finger. If this causes pain, doctors can administer a local anesthetic.

Sprained Thumb Treatment

Depending on the extent of the injury, the treatment option for a sprained thumb may be surgical or non-surgical.

Non-Surgical Treatment

This is ideal when the ligament is only partially torn. It involves the following:

  • Immobilization, the thumb is immobilized with the use of a bandage or a cast.

  • Pain medication

  • Cold/Hot compresses, these can help to relieve some of the pain and the swelling.

Surgical Treatment

When there is a complete tear or when bone involvement is present, surgery may be necessary in order for the thumb to heal completely. Treatment methods include:

  • Reconnecting the ligament to the bone

  • Repairing any fractures which may have resulted from the injury

  • Immobilization after surgery gives the thumb time to heal. For this purpose, a patient may have to wear a short arm cast.

Sprained Thumb Recovery Time

Recovery time is going to depend on the extent of injury and on the type of treatment done. Patients can expect the following:

  • Partial Tear involves non surgical treatments. The thumb may have to be immobilized for 3 weeks. Restricted motion with some strength exercises will be required for up to 3 or 4 more weeks following immobilization.

  • Complete Tear and avulsion fractures require surgical treatment and 6 to 8 weeks of immobilization with cast followed by strength training.

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