©2018 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. eMedicineHealth does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See Additional Information.

Symptoms and Signs of Skier's Thumb

Doctor's Notes on Skier's Thumb Symptoms, Diagnosis, Test. Taping, Surgery, and Prevention

Skier's thumb is an injury of ligament that connects the bones of the thumb together. Partial injuries to the ligament are usually treated with immobilization. In severe cases where the ligament is completely torn, surgery is the only option. The stability of the ligament is important because it is essential to the grasping function of the thumb.

Symptoms of skier's thumb may include inability to grasp or weakness of grasp between the thumb and index finger (most important), tenderness to the touch along the index finger side of the thumb (most important), pain at the base of the thumb in the web space between thumb and index finger, swelling of the thumb, blue or black discoloration of the skin over the thumb, thumb pain that worsens with movement in any or all directions, and pain in the wrist (which may be referred pain from the thumb).

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Skier's Thumb Symptoms, Diagnosis, Test. Taping, Surgery, and Prevention Symptoms

These signs and symptoms may occur minutes to hours after the fall that created the injury.

  • Pain at the base of the thumb in the web space between thumb and index finger
  • Swelling of the thumb
  • Inability to grasp or weakness of grasp between the thumb and index finger (most important)
  • Tenderness to the touch along the index finger side of the thumb (most important)
  • Blue or black discoloration of the skin over the thumb
  • Thumb pain that worsens with movement in any or all directions
  • Pain in the wrist (which may be referred pain from the thumb)

Skier's Thumb Symptoms, Diagnosis, Test. Taping, Surgery, and Prevention Causes

Skiing accidents are the most common causes of damage to the ligament that cause the injury known as skier's thumb. Injuries of this ligament make up 8%-10% of all skiing accidents. More specifically, a fall on an outstretched hand with a ski pole in the palm of the hand creates the force necessary to stress the thumb and stretch or tear the ligament. A simple fall on an outstretched hand with an empty palm usually does not create this same force. However, the thumb can also be injured if it jams into packed snow at high velocity.

Another less common cause of this injury is an automobile crash when the driver has the thumb alone draped over the steering wheel. Any injury in which the thumb is abnormally bent backward or to the side can cause skier's thumb.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pictures Anatomy, Where It Hurts, and More Slideshow

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pictures Anatomy, Where It Hurts, and More Slideshow

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist made up of bones and ligaments. The median nerve, which controls sensation and movement in the thumb and first three fingers, runs through this passageway along with tendons to the fingers and thumb. When it's pinched or compressed, the result is numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain in the hand, called carpal tunnel syndrome.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

CONTINUE SCROLLING FOR RELATED SLIDESHOW