Articles Common Thumb Injuries

January 16, 2019

We have compiled a list of common thumb injuries. It is important to accurately diagnose and identify the cause of these injuries as this will direct treatment to ensure the best outcomes.

Common Thumb Injuries- Scaphoid Fracture

The scaphoid is a small bone located at the base of the thumb. Fractures typically occur following a fall onto an outstretched hand. In the event of a fracture the blood supply can be disrupted, if untreated this can lead to tissue death and a significant loss of wrist/hand function.

Symptoms can include pain at the base of the thumb and a restricted ability to pinch and grasp objects. Scaphoid fractures can be difficult to detect, repeat scanning (i.e. x-ray, CT, bone scan) is often required to diagnose this condition.

Common Thumb Injuries- De Quervains Tenosynovitis  

This is a fancy name for inflammation of the two tendons which help extend your thumb. It is an overuse condition brought on by repeated/prolonged gripping. Symptoms can include pain at the base of the thumb which can extend into the forearm, restricted and painful thumb movements and a limited ability to grasp and pinch objects.

Common Thumb Injuries- Skiers Thumb (Ulnar Collateral Ligament Sprain) 

Imagine skiing down a steep mountain slope, suddenly your ski pole gets stuck and your thumb is violently forced open. This mechanism of injury can result in a strain or complete rupture of the ligament in the web space your thumb (ulnar collateral ligament). More common causes include holding onto a steering wheel during a car accident or catching your thumb on another players jumper during a game of touch. Symptoms can include pain in the web space, weakness with pinching and gripping and joint instability.

Common Thumb Injuries- Osteoarthritis

As we age our joints begin to degenerate and we can develop arthritis. The joints of the hands are particularly prone to this. Given we mainly use our hands to interact with our environment advanced arthritis of the hands can severely impact an individual’s quality of life. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, heat, redness and joint deformity.

Common Thumb Injuries- Nerve Injuries

Symptoms of pins and needles, burning, weakness and numbness can be suggestive of a nerve injury. Damage to the localised nerves in the hand can give rise to these symptoms but more commonly issues further “upstream’ (i.e. wrist, elbow and neck) are often the root cause.

Please keep in mind the information provided is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute to consult your treating health professional. If you have any specific questions or require assistance with your individual treatment requirements please do not hesitate to contact My Family Physio Sydney.

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