Our thumbs make us very unique creatures. They move in a way that none of our other fingers do and give us the ability to grab and hold things. But what happens when we hurt our thumbs, or get a thumb sprain?
What is a Thumb Sprain?
A thumb sprain is an injury to the ligaments inside the structure of the thumb. Ligaments are strands of soft tissue that connect bones to each other near joints.
The thumb has two ligaments: the ulnar collateral ligament (connects the thumb on the index finger side), and the radial collateral ligament (on the opposite side of the thumb). While it is possible to injure the radial collateral ligament, it is far less common.
How Do I Sprain My Thumb?
Getting a thumb sprain isn’t hard. They’re very common in the sports world and even falling on your hand in a strange position can result in thumb sprain. Typical causes of thumb sprain include:
- Jamming your thumb into another person
- Jamming your thumb into the ground
- Jamming your thumb into a ball, or other sporting equipment
- Bending your thumb into an extreme position
If the action results in the tearing of one or both ligaments, it’s a thumb sprain. Once you sprain your thumb, it’s common to see swelling and bruising around the joint. It will be painful for a while and you may lose some function. Writing, holding objects, and opening doors are all things that may become difficult.
Treating Thumb Sprain
If you suspect you’ve sprained your thumb, it’s important to get an X-ray to rule out any other possible injuries, like broken bones in the thumb or hand. From there, a hand specialist can determine if and which ligaments were torn.
If the injury is minor, a cast or splint are enough to heal the hand. But in more severe cases, surgery is required to reconstruct the ligament, sometimes building an entirely new one with a tendon.
Don’t mistake your thumb pain for just pain, it could be a thumb sprain. Remember these causes and symptoms.
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