Thumb injuries are quite common, especially among skiers. During a fall, a skier’s thumb can easily catch against the ski pole, resulting in a tear of the ligament that stabilizes the thumb. This ligament, known as the ulnar collateral ligament, normally keeps the thumb from pointing too far away from the hand. When it is injured, typical symptoms include pain, bruising, swelling over the torn ligament and weakness when grasping objects.
Treatment depends on the extent of the tear. To repair a partial tear, wearing a cast or modified splint for four to six weeks might be sufficient. For a full tear, especially where a person experiences significant instability, surgery may be needed to reattach the torn ends of the ligament.
Usually, surgery performed within the first few weeks following the tear offers the best outcome. A cast afterwards provides protection while the torn ligament heals. This is an ideal time to see us to design a rehabilitative program. After your cast is removed, gentle motion can usually start. Suggested exercises typically focus on helping you to
- normalize strength
- regain flexibility
- enhance coordination
- improve range of motion
By following the program, you can expect to return to skiing or playing sports approximately three to four months after surgery. It is crucial that you avoid stressful postures or any direct forces during the rehabilitation phase to give the ligament enough time to properly heal.