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Thumb Sprain

A sprain is a joint injury that causes a stretch or tear in a ligament. A ligament is a strong band of tissue connecting one bone to another. A thumb sprain is a painful injury that may cause looseness of the thumb joint.

A thumb sprain is a common injury in skiing. It may occur when you fall onto your outstretched thumb, bending it back toward your arm. It may also be caused by catching your thumb on something, such as your ski pole strap. This stretches and injures the ligament.

A thumb sprain is painful, and the area around the thumb will be swollen and tender. It may be hard to hold an object in your hand or to move your thumb.

Milder sprains may be treated with a cast, taping, or splinting so that the thumb does not move for up to 6 weeks.

Other common ways to treat a thumb sprain are:

  • Raise the hand with the injured thumb on a pillow when sit or lie down.
  • Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables, wrapped in a cloth, on the thumb every 3 to 4 hours, for up to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen, or other medicine as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines can cause stomach bleeding and other problems. Take the medicine only as directed.
  • Avoid sports or doing strenuous activities until your injured thumb has gained full strength, swelling is gone, and you have full range of motion; and
  • Wear a thumb or wrist brace or tape your thumb.
  • If you have a severe sprain, you may need surgery to repair the ligaments.

Disclaimer: This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

HIA File inju3249.htm Release 13/2010

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