When the thumb is overstretched or bent too far from its normal position a sprain occurs. The ligaments of the thumb are injured in a sprain. A common type of thumb sprain is called a skiers thumb.
There are three types of thumb sprains:
- Grade 1: Thumb ligaments are overstretched.
- Grade 2: Thumb ligaments are partially torn.
- Grade 3: Thumb ligaments are completely torn.
A common cause of a sprained thumb is a sports related fall or injury such as skiers thumb. A fall on an outstretch hand and thumb can cause a sprain to the thumb. When the thumb is bent into any unnatural position a sprain results. A thumb sprain can cause more than one ligament to tear. A thumb fracture can also result in the process of a sprain.
The most common symptom is pain immediately after the injury occurs. Swelling and bruising are common symptoms. Swelling and pain will make the thumb hard to move and can result in thumb numbness and tingling. If the sprain is a high grade such as a grade 3, instability around the thumb can result.
Treatment for a sprained thumb often involves:
- Applying the P.R.I.C.E protocol (protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation).
- Applying a cold pack and ice treatments to reduce swelling.
- Wearing a bandage or support to reduce swelling and assist in the healing process.
- Treatments from a sports chiropractor or physiotherapy to reduce pain and swelling where appropriate.
- Rehabilitation advice and guidance of a sports chiropractor or physiotherapist to improve mobility and strength.
- Surgery is suggested with some types of sprain.
- Always seek a medical opinion with a thumb sprain as early treatment can improve outcomes.