Home icon

Skier’s Thumb

Skier’s Thumb services offered in San Marcos, Encinitas and San Diego, CA

Skier’s thumb is a common injury among winter sports enthusiasts. Fellowship-trained hand surgeon Anisa Yalom, MD, in northern San Diego, California, diagnoses and treats this injury, which describes damage to the ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb. Skier’s thumb may be due to falling while holding a ski pole or other similar object. If you think you have skier’s thumb, contact the office to set up an appointment today.

Skier’s Thumb Q & A

What is skier's thumb? 

Skier's thumb refers to an injury of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the thumb. This ligament provides stability to the thumb joint. 

Skier’s thumb occurs when there's a forceful outward movement of the thumb, often due to a fall while gripping a ski pole or catching oneself during a fall. This can lead to a tear or strain of the ligament.

What are the typical symptoms of skier's thumb? 

Symptoms of skier's thumb include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness at the base of the thumb
  • Difficulty gripping objects

Your thumb joint may feel unstable. In severe cases, you’ll see visible bruising or even a gap at the site of the injury. 

How do you treat skier’s thumb? 

Treatment depends on your specific case’s severity. In mild cases, Dr. Yalom uses conservative approaches such as splinting, rest, and ice. 

If you have a more severe case, such as a complete ligament tear, she may recommend surgery to repair or reconstruct the ligament. 

How long does it take to recover from surgery for skier’s thumb?

Recovery from skier's thumb surgery involves wearing a splint or cast to immobilize the thumb while the ligament heals. Dr. Yalom often recommends physical therapy to restore your thumb’s strength and flexibility. The recovery period can vary, but most patients can expect gradual improvement over several weeks to months.

What if I don’t get treatment for skier's thumb? 

Untreated skier's thumb can lead to chronic instability and weakness in the thumb joint, affecting its overall function and grip strength. Over time, untreated injuries can potentially lead to the development of arthritis in the thumb joint.

How can I avoid experiencing skier’s thumb?

If you’re engaging in winter sports, make sure you follow proper technique when holding ski poles and be mindful of hand positioning during falls. Wearing gloves with proper wrist and thumb support can also provide added protection.

How do I know I need medical care for skier’s thumb?

If you experience significant pain, swelling, or instability in the thumb after a fall or injury during winter sports, seek prompt medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment increase the chances of a successful outcome and prevent potential long-term complications.

Contact the office of Anisa Yalom, MD, if you suspect you have skier’s thumb or another hand injury. Call today or use the online tool to schedule your appointment.