Fingers General

Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment of a Sprained Thumb

Your thumb is an essential part of your hand. If you have a thumb injury, it means that grabbing things, holding items, and performing many normal daily tasks will be next to impossible. One of the most common types of injuries to the thumb is a sprain. Even though it might not sound serious, it can be. In fact, in some cases, it might even require surgery to repair.

What Is a Sprain?

A sprained thumb happens when you damage the ligament, which connects the thumb to the rest of the hand. The ligament is responsible for pinching and holding, and a sprain will weaken your ability to do these types of actions.

Sprains are often the result of falling. Most people will instinctively put their arms out in front of them when they fall, and they land on their outstretched and open hands. The impact can tear the ligament.

When the injury occurs, you might not realize that it is a sprain right away. Sometimes the pain comes quickly, but other times, it can take some time to set in. At that point, not only will you feel pain, but you will also find that your ability to move the thumb is greatly diminished. Often, you will notice swelling and bruising. The area around the thumb will also be tender when you touch it.

Should You See a Doctor?

For mild sprains, some people forego the doctor, but this could be a bad idea. Its often difficult for someone to determine just how bad a sprain might be. If you have more than a small tear in the ligament, it could cause instability and pain in the area for a long time. Its best to visit a doctor, who can then determine the extent of the injury and come up with a course of treatment.

When you visit the doctor, they will want to manipulate the thumb to see whether the ligament tear is complete or partial. They can move the thumb and test the stability, which will let them know how to proceed. Sometimes, they will also want to take an x-ray to determine if you have a fracture to any of the bones in the area.

For those who have partial tears, surgery will not be necessary. The doctor will usually recommend icing the sprain regularly, and may provide you with a splint or cast to keep the thumb in the proper position until it heals. They will likely want you to wear the cast for several weeks without removing it. After that point, you can remove the cast and do exercises to regain your strength and flexibility. When you are not exercising the thumb, you will still want to wear the splint for at least two to three weeks. Follow the doctors orders.

If the ligament is torn all the way, the doctor might recommend surgery to reconnect it to the bone. After the surgery, you will need to be in a cast for six to eight weeks as it heals.

If you have a sprain, or believe that you do, make sure you contact our hand surgeon’s office in West Bloomfield, Howell, Warren, or Macomb to get in touch with a medical professional as soon as possible. Its the best way to minimize the risk of permanent injury.