Sprained Thumb

Sprained Thumb

While not as severe as a bone fracture, a sprained thumb can cause a lot of pain. When a thumb sprain happens, the ligaments that hold the thumb in place stretch further than they should. It can be an inconvenient injury that makes grasping objects or moving the thumb difficult.

There are two ligaments that help the thumb move and stay stable. But most sprains involve the ulnar collateral ligament. You may hear someone call this type of sprain a skier’s thumb because it is a frequent injury for people using ski poles. However, the most common way people sprain their thumbs is by falling on their hands.

Symptoms of a Sprained Thumb

If you have stretched your thumb ligament too far, you will likely experience some symptoms. The most common symptom is pain or discomfort. In addition, you may also notice:

  • Swelling or bruising around the bottom of your thumb
  • Difficulty pinching or gripping items
  • Difficulty moving your thumb at all
  • Weakness in the thumb

The symptoms can last for a few days or a few weeks. The pain may lessen for many, but they still may have a reduced range of motion. The thumb might also feel unstable or loose. If you try to use it or return to a sport before it has healed, you could injure it further.

Types of Thumb Sprains

Like other sprains that involve ligaments, there are three grades that depend on the severity of the injury. These grades are:

  • Grade 1 Sprain – In a mild thumb sprain, you have stretched the ligament too far, but it is not torn.
  • Grade 2 Sprain – If you have a partial tear in the ligament, your thumb sprain is Grade 2. You are more likely to lose some function in the thumb temporarily.
  • Grade 3 Sprain – This type of sprain is the most severe. In this case, the ligament tears in half or away from the bone. There may also be a bone fracture where the ligament tore away from the bone.

How to Diagnose and Treat a Thumb Sprain

Many thumb sprains are mild. But if your sprain is not improving or your thumb feels unstable, you should consult a doctor. At the exam, your doctor will ask how you injured your thumb or what sports you play. The doctor will also try to move your thumb around. If your thumb is unstable, you may get an X-Ray or another imaging test.

Some sprains can heal on their own with rest and care. Others may need surgery or even reconstruction. By getting an exam, you can work with your doctor to determine how to care for your thumb sprain. Your doctor may recommend using PRICE, which stands for:

  • Pressure to keep swelling down
  • Rest to avoid further injury
  • Ice to reduce swelling and pain
  • Compression to help apply pressure
  • Elevation to help keep swelling to a minimum

You may need surgery if you have a Grade 2 or Grade 3 sprain. This surgery can repair a partial tear or help reattach a complete tear. Afterward, you may have to wear a cast around your thumb and part of your hand for three or four weeks.

Get Thumb Sprain Treatment at ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care

As one of the only health systems in Cape Coral with ER and urgent care services under one roof, ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care offers affordable pricing, quality care, and trained staff. Patients are only billed based on the level of care received, and no appointments are needed for in-person visits. The ER is available 24 hours a day, and the urgent care walk-in clinic hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care-Cape Coral, a department of ShorePoint Health Port Charlotte, is located at 2521 Del Prado Blvd. N. in Cape Coral and may be reached at 239-356-0740.