What is Gamekeeperâ€™s Thumb?
Gamekeeper's thumb, also known as skier's thumb, is a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament, a band of tissue that supports the joint at the base of the thumb.
Causes of Gamekeeperâ€™s Thumb
Damage to the ulnar collateral ligament may lead to chronic instability of the thumb, creating problems in its normal functioning. Gamekeeper's thumb can result from sports activities (while stopping a ball with a bare hand) or a fall on your outstretched thumb (especially while holding onto something like a ski pole).
Symptoms of Gamekeeperâ€™s Thumb
The symptoms of gamekeeperâ€™s thumb include pain, bruising and swelling at the base of the thumb. You may also experience loss of strength when pinching or gripping with the thumb.
Diagnosis of Gamekeeperâ€™s Thumb
To diagnose gamekeeperâ€™s thumb, your doctor may numb your thumb and perform a physical examination. If the tear is associated with a fracture of a bone, your doctor may order an X-ray or ultrasound.
Treatment for Gamekeeperâ€™s Thumb
Your doctor may suggest applying ice to reduce swelling and prescribe pain-relieving medications. For a partially torn ligament, your doctor may order a splint or cast for about six weeks, followed by an exercise program to improve the thumbâ€™s range of motion. If the ligament is completely torn, surgery is usually recommended for repair.