Various Thumb Injuries
Often, a thumb is injured as a result of a fall or other situation where the thumb is subjected to an extreme force that pulls it away from the palm. Ligaments that normally hold the thumb bones in position at a joint can be stretched or torn, causing an injury that can range from a mild strain to total dislocation of a thumb joint, particularly the joint at the base of the thumb.
After suffering a thumb injury, you should consider consulting your medical practitioner for a proper diagnosis. You should definitely make an appointment, or visit the emergency room if your symptoms are severe, if any of the following apply to you:
- You can see that the thumb is deformed, or the swelling is severe.
- After you have rested the thumb for an hour, it still hurts.
- You are unable to bend the thumb completely.
- When you try to move your thumb, the pain is extreme.
- You experience any numbness or weakness in your hand or arm.
- When you try to make a pinching motion, your thumb feels weak at the base.
Any of the above could indicate a serious injury that will need medical treatment. Your doctor will examine your thumb, and may order X-rays to determine the type and level of injury. Your treatment will depend on the findings, but will often include immobilizing the thumb for a length of time.
Before your appointment, you can take the following measures to relieve pain and swelling:
- Rest the thumb by immobilizing it. You can splint it with tape or rest your hand in a sling. Preventing movement will decrease the risk of further damage and allow the injured soft tissues to begin healing.
- Ice will help to reduce inflammation and swelling, which in turn will relieve pain. Hold a bag of crushed ice (wrapped in a towel) against the injured area for as long as is comfortable, several times a day for the first two or three days after the injury.
- Elevate the thumb above the level of the heart. This will help to minimize swelling.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication, according to the directions on the pack.
Your doctor may recommend that you wear a thumb stabilizer or spica while your thumb heals. Thumb ligaments are notoriously vulnerable to re-injury, so using a stabilizer or spica can be a sensible precaution to take. Although they wrap around the wrist and extend up the thumb, holding the base of the thumb securely, they do allow you to use the rest of your hand normally. Velcro fastenings on the wrist and thumb adjust for comfort and support.