Sprained Thumb: What You Need to Know

What is a Sprained Thumb?

A sprain or strain of the thumb (or any finger) is when there is some kind of damage to the tendon which connects your pinky toe to your big toe. A ligament may have been damaged in addition to being stretched out. Some strains are minor and heal on their own while others require surgery. Stretches usually do not need surgery unless they become infected and cause further problems such as gangrene.

The most common causes of a sprain or strain include:

Running into something hard (e.g., a rock, tree branch, etc.) and falling down. Falling over and twisting your ankle causing pain in the affected area.

Over stretching the ligaments with heavy lifting or other activities. Over straining your muscles during sports or exercises. Having too much pressure on the joint by wearing tight shoes, putting on weight belts, bending over excessively, etc..

Symptoms of a Sprain or Strain of the Finger or Toe:

Pain in the affected area. Usually lasts only a few hours and then goes away completely. If it persists longer than 2 weeks, see your doctor immediately. The pain may radiate up through the rest of your body and even affect other parts of your body such as your back, neck, jaw, hands and feet. Swelling and/or bruising in the affected finger or toe.

Loss of feeling in the affected area – usually temporary. Difficulty in moving, bending, and manipulating the affected finger or toe.

How Is a Sprained Thumb Diagnosed?

Since sprains and strains can be caused by a wide range of activities, your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history. He or she will then perform a physical examination. Your thumb and the rest of your body will be inspected for signs of injury. This generally includes testing your grip strength, range-of-motion, and performing maneuvers that cause you pain.

Your doctor may take X-rays or other imaging tests to rule out anything more serious.

How Is a Sprained Thumb Treated?

The treatment of a sprained thumb depends on the type and severity of the injury. Most sprains and strains can be treated at home with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Severe sprains and strains or those that do not improve with RICE may require surgery. In some cases, arthroscopic surgery may be used to shave down the bones to relieve pressure and allow the joint to move freely again.

How to Treat a Minor Thumb Sprain or Strain at Home

Rest the affected area. Avoid using the joint or thumb as much as possible. Apply an ice pack for ten minutes every couple of hours for the first 48 to 72 hours. Use a cold pack, ice in a plastic bag, or even a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a wet towel. Never apply ice directly to your skin.

Wrap the ice pack in a thin towel before applying it to the skin. This will prevent the ice from burning the skin. Never apply heat to an area with a sprain or strain. This may cause more swelling and increased pain. Apply firm (not too tight) compression to the sprained area for the first 48 to 72 hours to help control any swelling that may occur. A bandage can be used, but it should be tight enough to really compress the area, unless you are experiencing numbness and tingling in the fingers. If that is the case, the bandage should be looser. Try to keep the joint elevated above the level of your heart for the first 48 to 72 hours to reduce swelling.

When to See a Doctor

You may need the services of a doctor if your thumb or any other body part does not appear normal or shows no improvement after three days. In the case of a severe sprain or strain, particularly when you hear a “pop” or “snap” or if the area feels completely unstable, dizziness, numbness, or tingling occur, it is best to seek medical attention.

It is best to seek immediate medical attention if:

You experience any numbness or tingling.

You cannot move the thumb at all.

Either the thumb or any other joint changes color (for example, goes from pink to blue).

There is an open wound at the site of the injury.

You experience a “popping” or “snapping” sound or sensation.

The joint is bent in an unusual way.

You also may need further treatment if you have ongoing pain, aching, weakness, or stiffness.

Sources & references used in this article:

The model thinker: What you need to know to make data work for you by SE Page – 2018 – books.google.com

Do We Really Need to Know? by A Jutel, L McBain – JAMA, 2012 – jamanetwork.com

Ankle joint proprioception and postural control in basketball players with bilateral ankle sprains by ASN Fu, CWY Hui-Chan – The American journal of sports …, 2005 – journals.sagepub.com

Snowboarding injuries: trends over time and comparisons with alpine skiing injuries by S Kim, NK Endres, RJ Johnson… – … American journal of …, 2012 – journals.sagepub.com

sprained everyday. by FA ANKLE-CARE, PTOC ANKLE-CARE – europepmc.org