Skiing, though a popular and exciting winter sport, can sometimes lead to hand and wrist injuries like skier’s thumb, bone or tendon injuries. It helps to be aware of common injuries that can occur, so you can try to prevent them or know when to seek treatment if you do sustain an injury to the hand or wrist.
The most common skiing injury is to a thumb ligament called the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), which is at the metacarpophalangeal joint. This is located generally in the area of the second joint from the tip of your thumb. Injury happens when the ski pole places stress on the thumb, especially when a skier falls. This injury is oftentimes referred to as a “skier’s thumb.”
Treatment for skiers’ thumbs depends on the severity of the injury. The ligament can either be partially or completely torn. A partial tear usually requires a cast or splint to allow it to heal. A complete tear may require surgery to repair the ligament. When there is a full tear to the ligament, the end that is torn can get trapped behind a muscle, which is why it is crucial to see a hand specialist if you fall while skiing and feel pain in your inner thumb.
The most impactful thing you can do is to refrain from using the ski pole strap that usually goes around your wrist. Additionally, do not choose poles with saber handles (looks like the handle of a sword and wraps all the way around the skier’s hand.) By not using the ski pole strap or saber handle poles, you are allowing the ski pole to release from your hand if you fall. This prevents unnecessary strain on your thumb joint that can lead to injury to the UCL.
Other common skiing injuries include wrist fracture, dislocation, or ligament injury when a skier falls and puts their hands out to protect themselves. Though a natural instinct, this can put a large amount of stress on your wrists and hands. It is recommended that you see a hand and wrist specialist for any injuries resulting from a skiing fall. In terms of prevention, medical studies have shown that using wrist guards can effectively decrease the likelihood of wrist injuries when enjoying skiing activities.
While out skiing, it is important to take any protective measures possible to avoid hand and wrist injuries, such as not using ski pole straps and wearing protective gear. In the event that you do find yourself with a hand or wrist injury, Midwest Hand Surgery is here to help! Please give our team a call at 630-359-6888 or click here to request an appointment.
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