A UCL injury of the thumb, also known as skier’s thumb or gamekeeper’s thumb, is a difficult injury for an athlete. In this video, I discuss how the injury occurs and what the treatment options are.

What is a UCL injury of the thumb?

The UCL, or ulnar collateral ligament, is a small ligament at the base of the thumb that keeps the thumb from being pulled away from the rest of the hand. It’s located at the base of the thumb on the side closest to the index finger.

How does a UCL injury of the thumb occur?

An athlete injures this ligament when an object pulls the thumb away from the rest of the hand suddenly. A baseball player slides headfirst into a base, and the base pulls his thumb suddenly. A skier crashes while holding a pole in his or her hand.

Skiing is a common sport in which a UCL injury of the thumb can occur.

How is this thumb injury treated?

Some UCL injuries can be treated without surgery. The doctor might put your hand and thumb in a cast or splint for a number of weeks to allow the ligament to heal. Other injuries require surgery to sew the torn ligament back together or reattach it to bone with stitches and/or anchors. Return to sports can take up to 6 to 8 weeks.

Also read:
Hand injury: Common injuries in exercise and sports
6 tips to prepare to see an orthopedic surgeon

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