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Skier’s Thumb: Say What?

Skier’s Thumb: Say What?

Skiing is a fun sport that many people enjoy but, like all sports, comes with the risk of injury. Have you ever fallen while skiing and hurt your thumb? When falling, it’s natural to try to hold onto your ski poles so you don’t have to chase them down. However, this may lead to an injury called skier’s thumb.

What is skier’s thumb?

This is an injury to a ligament that helps to stabilize the thumb as you pinch objects.

How can I know if I have skier’s thumb?

Common signs and symptoms include

Pain and swelling of the thumb, close to the web space

Bruising of the thumb, close to the web space

Feeling of weakness or instability of thumb when pinching objects

Note: this injury is not limited to only skiers, if these symptoms resonate with you but you did not have a ski accident, it is still possible this is the underlying injury

Certain tests of strength, range of motion, and ligament testing can be performed to identify if this is the cause of your thumb pain

Imaging may be performed to assure a fracture did not occur with the injury.

I think I have this, so now what?

The first step would be to limit the use of your thumb to allow for healing to begin

You will also want to receive a thorough examination to assure this is the injury that occurred based on special testing as described above and to determine the severity of the injury

After examination, you may be referred for further imaging based on your presentation and the findings


Based on your examination and imaging, if performed, recommended treatment may be either conservative or surgical

Conservative treatment consists of thumb immobilization to allow for healing of the ligament and then reintegration of exercises to allow for improved range of motion and strength. The duration of immobilization will be determined based on your examination findings and the extent of the injury.

Living with a hand injury can be frustrating, especially if you don’t know what is going on. If these symptoms sound familiar for you or someone you know, schedule an appointment to see one of our Physical Therapists for a thorough examination and specialized recommendations.

Happy Hands!

Kaitlin Wensinger, PT, DPT


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