If you are a skier, snowboarder or ice skater, winter may be your favorite time of year. For skiers, shushing down the mountain in a rhythmic motion, spraying up a little fresh snow, enjoying the beautiful scenery is paradise. That is- until you hit an edge and wipe out.
Whether you are an avid or a vacation skier you are at an increased risk for a trip to your doctor or an emergency room visit because of an injury to your hands. The most common injury when skiing is falling and hurting your thumb, known as “skier’s thumb”. Skier’s thumb accounts for 8 to 10 percent of all skiing accidents.
A “skiers thumb” injury happens when you fall onto your outstretched thumb. Blunt force on your thumb can stretch or tear the ligament along the outside of your thumb. Your thumb can become very sore and unstable, causing pain and making it difficult to pinch, grasp, or grip objects. (Snowboarders can also be affected; but, this happens less commonly.)
- It hurts when you try to pinch an object between your thumb and forefinger
- You feel as if you don’t have enough strength to pinch an object
- Your thumb may appear crooked, as if it is leaning away from your hand
If you have these symptoms after a fall, it’s important to seek medical attention to determine if your thumb ligament is strained or ruptured.
Treatment usually begins with icing, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to reduce pain and inflammation, and elevation of the hand to minimize swelling. Thumb Braces that stabilize and protect your thumb can be worn to give the ligament time to heal. Wearing a durable, comfortable brace—like the ThumSaver MP or Mueller Thumb Stabilizer Splint —reduces stress on your thumb, gives the ligament time to heal, and helps prevent further injury.
Therapy, perhaps with a hand therapy specialist, may also be prescribed. In most cases, splinting and therapy allows the ligament time to heal, hopefully in time for next ski season.
Persistent problems may require surgery to reduce the risk of chronic instability. In these cases, or if the ligament has completely ruptured (totally torn away from the bone), more restrictive thumb braces can be used to protect the thumb from further injury until surgery can be performed.Like what you’ve read? Click here to subscribe to the blog!
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Our blogs are educational in nature and are not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Because your condition is unique to you, it is recommended that you consult with your health care provider before attempting any medical or therapeutic treatments. We are always happy to answer questions about products mentioned in our blogs, however, we cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice.