Winter break is almost here – and family fun in Oakland County often means heading Alpine Valley, Mt. Holly or Pine Knob to hit the slopes! But unfortunately, skiing injuries sometimes occur. And “Skier’s Thumb” accounts for a significant number of these skiing injuries.
Named after the most common cause of the condition – skiing accidents – Skier’s Thumb refers to an injury to the soft tissue (called “ligaments”) responsible for connecting the bones of the thumb. At our Oakland County practice, approximately 10% of all skiing accidents we treat are ligament injuries like Skier’s Thumb.
The thumb’s ability to grasp is due largely to the ligament’s stability. When Skier’s Thumb results in the ligament being torn completely, it must be repaired through surgery.
In this article, board certified Oakland County hand expert Dr. Rehman discusses all the important details of Skier’s Thumb.
Causes of Skier’s Thumb
Skier’s Thumb often occurs when a skier sustains a fall; their hand outstretched and their ski pole firmly grasped in their palm. The force of the fall can subject the thumb to enough stress to stretch or tear the ligament. While falling on an empty palm will typically not result in the force required to cause Skier’s Thumb, jamming one’s thumb into packed snow at a high velocity can also result in injury.
Though less common, Skier’s Thumb can also result from an automobile crash. At our Oakland County practice, we have treated cases of Skier’s Thumb sustained from car accidents, wherein the driver’s thumb was draped over the steering wheel at the moment of impact.
While these are two of the most noteworthy causes of the condition, Skier’s Thumb can result from any injury that forces the thumb to bend backwards or to the side at an abnormal angle.
Symptoms of Skier’s Thumb Symptoms
The symptoms of skier’s thumb may occur immediately or several hours after the injury. Symptoms include feelings of pain in the web space between the base of the thumb and the index figure. Skier’s Thumb patients may also experience swelling of their thumb, as well as an difficulty or inability to grasp between their thumb and index finger.
Skier’s Thumb may also cause tenderness to the touch on the side of the thumb next to the index finger, and can result in the skin of the thumb to experience black or blue discoloration.
Pain from Skier’s Thumb may also worsen when moved in certain (or all) and may also extend to the wrist. If you have sustained a thumb injury and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, contact board certified Oakland County hand specialist Dr. Rehman for evaluation immediately.
How Doctors Treat Skier’s Thumb
Skier’s Thumb resulting in partial injury to the ligament usually leave the patient’s thumb immobilized for several weeks. Patients with a completely ruptured ligament, however, will generally require surgery.
Should Dr. Rehman decide surgery is the best course of action, she will typically perform what is called a “suture anchor” to repair the ligament. Following surgery, Skier’s Thumb patients may have their hand fitted with a lightweight cast, holding their thumb steady while the ligament heals.
Schedule an appointment with board certified Oakland County hand specialist Dr. Rehman if you suspect there is even a chance you have Skier’s Thumb. Dr. Rehman will examine your condition, and discuss whether surgery or nonsurgical therapy is your best option.
Skier’s Thumb Doctor – Oakland County
If you suffered a skiing injury of the hand or wrist, it is extremely important to have your hand examined and treated by a board certified hand surgeon like Dr. Rehman as soon as possible. She will rapidly put in place a treatment plan to not only relieve pain and alleviate symptoms, but will also conduct a thorough evaluation of any damage to the bones, tendons or ligaments.
Rapid intervention is required with skier’s hand, and other injuries of the hand and fingers, to preserve the function of the hand and avoid long term complications or mobility issues. Do not delay. Contact Oakland County hand surgeon Dr. Rehman today.