Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic, Islington, London

What Skiers Should Know About – Skier’s Thumb

This common skiing injury is caused when the skier falls and lands on his hand or the ski pole spraining the Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) of the thumb. This is the inside ligament of the thumb in the webspace (see photo left). The weight of the skier’s body combined with their speed transmit a high force through the arm and into the hand during a fall. If the skier lands specifically on their hand or the pole, the force of the fall can be enough to rupture the UCL.

What To Do
If you suspect that you may have injured your thumb in this manner it is best to rest it for the first few days and apply ice for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours. It is wise to seek medical attention if the swelling and pain has failed to settle within the first week as this may be indicative of a more serious injury to the ligament like a partial or complete rupture. Symptoms may include persistent pain and swelling and a sense of instability or ‘looseness’ of the thumb during pinch activities.

Sprained Thumb Prevention
Skier’s Thumb accounts for 10% of all skiing injuries. As putting your hands inside the ski pole loops when skiing greatly increases the risk of sustaining a Skier’s Thumb sprain in the event of a fall, there is a body of opinion that recommends not putting your hands in the ski pole loops unless you are in deep powder snow and fear losing your ski poles, but this has always been a debate. In addition, the wearing of a Thumb Stabiliser can help to protect the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, without limiting hand movement and function and can be helpful especially if you have had this injury before.

Jade Pattison has specialist training in hand physiotherapy and is experienced in managing complex hand injuries following trauma or surgery

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Established in 1998