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What is a ski foam?

In a skier's thumb, a ligament running on the little finger side of the thumb is damaged. This ligament is important for the stability of the joint between the metacarpal and the first phalanx of the thumb. A skier's thumb can be contracted from falling on the thumb to getting caught behind something with the thumb. A chronic skier's thumb can result from overuse or from rheumatic diseases.

What are the symptoms in a skier's thumb?

In acute skier's thumb (i.e., after a fall or other trauma), there is pain on the pinky side of the thumb accompanied by swelling and sometimes a visible hematoma. In chronic skier's thumb there is primarily pain, but swelling also occurs. The pain is triggered by stress on the joint, such as when picking up heavier objects. Pinch strength is often reduced in this case.


Based on the pattern of symptoms and physical examination, the diagnosis is made. Additionally, x-rays are taken to assess how the joint looks and to check if there is also injury to the bone. Sometimes an ultrasound is made to assess the ligament.


Non-operative (conservative) treatment

When the ligament on the pinky side of the thumb is torn but not completely severed, nonoperative treatment may be used. This treatment consists of a cast and/or a brace for 3-4 weeks. This is often followed by hand therapy to rebuild the condition of the thumb.

Surgical treatment

If the ligament is completely torn off, or if there is permanent instability then surgery is indicated. During this surgery, the ligament is repaired to the bone from which it was torn. If there is a bone fragment then it is reattached to the first phalanx of the thumb. If there is a chronic problem and the ligament can no longer be used, then a repair is often done with the body's own tendon material.

The surgery is done in day surgery. The entire arm is numbed by a nerve block or general anesthesia is used. The wound is sutured with stitches that can be removed after 10-14 days. After the procedure, you will have a compression bandage with plaster splint and after the sutures are removed, you will have to wear a brace for 6 weeks after surgery. After 6 weeks, the brace may be tapered off and movement and strength slowly built up. The hand therapist will guide you in your recovery.

During the consultation hour, you will receive detailed information about post-treatment and recovery, as well as an information brochure about the procedure.

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