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What Is Skier's Thumb?

What Is Skier's Thumb?

Plenty of sports injuries are named after the athletes that experience them: thrower’s shoulder, tennis elbow, jumper’s knee. Skier’s thumb is no different, but the treatment is the same regardless of whether you ski or not. With proper diagnosis and rehabilitation, a specialist can repair the damage and preserve the mobility of your hand. 

At The Institute for Arthroscopy & Sports Medicine in San Francisco, California, Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht and his experienced team treat all types of ski injuries, including damage to the collateral ligaments known as skier’s thumb. If you’re looking for a San Francisco ski doctor, Bay area-located IASM could be the right choice.

The origin of the name 

Skier’s thumb refers specifically to an acute injury of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). This band of tissue is responsible for stabilizing the thumb, allowing you to grasp and pinch. Chronic UCL injuries caused by repetitive stress are referred to as Gamekeeper’s thumb, a related condition. 

Skier’s thumb is the second-most-common ski-related condition, right after knee injuries. This is because skiers often fall with their hands outstretched, causing their thumbs to overextend as they land on their poles. 

However, 40% of people who acquire UCL sprains do so while riding bikes or motorcycles. Even getting into a car accident with your thumb on the wheel can lead to skier’s thumb. By finding an orthopedic doctor, San Francisco residents can get quick treatment to repair damage. 

Diagnosing and treating skier’s thumb

Regardless of how you sprained your thumb, the symptoms are often the same. They include: 

If you suspect you might have sprained your thumb, schedule an appointment with a sports medicine doctor right away. Sports medicine doctor, San Francisco-located Dr. Halbrecht specializes in ski injuries, including the diagnosis and treatment of skier’s thumb. 

X-rays and ultrasounds can help determine where your UCL was damaged, and whether surgery is necessary. It’s important to get these diagnostic tests done quickly so the results will be as clear as possible. 

If the ligament has been severely sprained or torn, surgery might be necessary to repair it. Either way, you can expect to wear a splint and undergo physical therapy to recover full function of your thumb. 

If you need a ski doctor, San Francisco-based Dr. Halbrecht can see you. Just call the location closest to you, or book an appointment online

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