Should I See an Orthopedic Surgeon for My Skier’s Thumb?

Examining patients hand who has skier's thumb injury

Should I See an Orthopedic Surgeon for My Skier’s Thumb?

We are in the heart of winter in the Gunnison Valley and throughout Colorado. With longer days on the horizon and more endurance building, the aches and pains that can occur as a result of a long, exhilarating day of skiing or riding are abundant.

Do you have pain around your thumb?  The most common cause of damage to the soft tissue that connects the bones of your thumb together is called the skier’s thumb. It accounts for a considerable number of skiing injuries and, if it involves the complete tearing of the ligament, it often requires surgery to repair.

Let’s talk about what’s involved in skier’s thumb, and where you can go in Gunnison and Crested Butte to see an outstanding orthopedic surgeon who can fix your hurting thumb – so you can get back on the slopes.

What Can Cause Skier’s Thumb?

It is estimated that thumb injuries account for up to 10% of all skiing accidents. Skier’s thumb can result from a fall on an outstretched hand with a ski pole in that hand. This creates a force that stresses the thumb and stretches or tears the ligament. Your thumb can also sustain injury if it jams into packed snow at high velocity.

How Do I Know if I Have Skier’s Thumb?

Symptoms of skier’s thumb may not appear immediately. It could be hours after the fall that created the injury before you notice any symptoms.

When you do, however, they are likely to include:

  • Pain in the webbed area between your thumb and index finger
  • Thumb swelling
  • Difficulty or weakness when trying to grip something between your thumb and index finger
  • Tenderness on the inside of your thumb, along the area that faces your index finger
  • Thumb discoloration
  • Pain that gets worse when moving your thumb
  • Referred pain from your thumb, affecting your wrist

If you experience any of these symptoms, Dr. Griggs is upper extremity Fellowship-trained and Dr. Clifton can also access and treat. We can see you on the day of your injury, or within 24 hours of the injury occurring.

Treatment for Thumb Injury from Skiing

If you have been diagnosed with skier’s thumb, you will be referred to an orthopedic surgeon or hand surgeon. This doctor will reexamine your hand and thumb and discuss your therapeutic options with you. A partial injury to the thumb ligament (a stretch or a partial tear) can be treated with immobilization for several weeks, whereas a complete rupture of the ligament often requires surgical repair.

Preventing Skier’s Thumb

  • Consciously letgo of your ski pole when you fall
  • Try to fall onto the outstretched hand without the ski pole in your hand
  • Use ski poles that have finger-groove grips rather than wrist straps
  • Ask Dr. Griggs or Clifton about some helpful tips about ski safety
  • While participating in other activities be sure to protect your fall as much as possible

Orthopedic Care in Crested Butte and Gunnison, Colorado

If you have sustained a thumb injury or have chronic thumb pain, don’t ignore the pain. Come see the experienced medical professionals at gO Orthopedics.

Dr. Rhett Griggs and Dr. Blake Clifton are fellowship-trained in orthopedics and can diagnose and treat your injury quickly and effectively.

Call us today at (970) 349-5103 (Crested Butte) or (970) 641-8899 (Gunnison)to schedule an appointment.  We look forward to seeing you!


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