Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Skier's Thumb Overview

What is skier's thumb?
A person with skier's thumb (Gamekeeper's thumb) has torn one of the ligaments in the thumb. The ligament supports the joint that joins the thumb to the bone in the hand. Ligaments are strong bands that hold the bones in place during movement of a joint. Skier's thumb occurs when the thumb is forced to move beyond the normal range of motion. This injury occurs most commonly in skiers who fall onto the thumb while holding on to a ski pole.

What are the symptoms of skier's thumb?
Symptoms of skier's thumb include pain, swelling, and bruising at the base of the thumb. Additional symptoms of skier's thumb include difficulty bending the thumb and difficulty holding objects.

How does the doctor treat skier's thumb?
Treatment for skier's thumb includes rest, elevation, cold compresses, a thumb splint, physical therapy, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. Surgery may be required to treat skier's thumb if the ligament is torn completely.

Continue to Skier's Thumb Symptoms

Last Updated: Nov 15, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Skier's Thumb References
  1. Harper MT, Chandnani VP, Spaeth J, Santangelo JR, Providence BC, Bagg MA. Gamekeeper thumb: diagnosis of ulnar collateral ligament injury using magnetic resonance imaging, magnetic resonance arthrography and stress radiography. J Magn Reson Imaging. 1996 Mar-Apr;6(2):322-8. [9132097]
  2. Plancher KD, Ho CP, Cofield SS, Viola R, Hawkins RJ. Role of MR imaging in the management of "skier's thumb" injuries. Magn Reson Imaging Clin N Am. 1999 Feb;7(1):73-84, viii. [10067224]
  3. Zeman C, Hunter RE, Freeman JR, Purnell ML, Mastrangelo J. Acute skier's thumb repaired with a proximal phalanx suture anchor. Am J Sports Med. 1998 Sep-Oct;26(5):644-50. [9784810]
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