Treatment Options for Common Types of Thumb Sprains

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From keyboard and mouse use to video games or texting, most people use their thumbs on a daily basis. As a result, thumb sprains are an extremely common injury for many people. These sprains occur when the thumb extends past its intended range of motion, which can overly stretch certain supportive ligaments. Typically, a thumb sprain involves an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament that exists in the base of the thumb and palm of the hand.

What are Several Common Types of Thumb Sprains?

In most circumstances in which a person sprains their thumb, the injury generally falls into one of three categories, referred to medically as grades. The grade of a thumb sprain increases with the severity of the injury:

  • Grade 1 — These mild sprains typically occur when ligaments stretch beyond normal ranges of motion. Grade 1 sprains do not generally feature torn ligaments.
  • Grade 2 — These moderate sprains usually happen when ligaments tear partially but not completely. Loss of mobility and function is often routine with Grade 2 sprains.
  • Grade 3 — These severe sprains normally materialize when ligaments tear completely or detach from the bone. Grade 3 sprains can even result in an avulsion fracture, where a small piece of bone separates along with the tendon.

What are the Treatment Options for Thumb Sprains?

Before a qualified physician can provide treatment options for a sprained thumb, it is necessary to diagnose the extent of the injury. In these situations, a physician will often examine the injured patient’s thumb directly, assessing function and mobility. Additionally, imaging tests are often needed to diagnose the severity of a sprained thumb, including occasionally MRIs to evaluate potential ligament damage and X-rays to check for bone damage.

fOnce a licensed professional diagnoses a sprained thumb, it is possible to receive treatment options. Though the treatment options can differ based on the severity of the injury and the patient’s physiology. For example, a qualified doctor may recommend that the patient:

  • Take Medication — Anti-inflammatory medicines can help reduce swelling and speed up the healing process for a thumb sprain;
  • Immobilize the Thumb — Using a splint or bandage wrap to immobilize the injury and reduce range of motion can help treat a thumb sprain;
  • Undergo Surgery — In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the ligaments and treat the thumb sprain; or
  • Engage in Therapy — Whether or not surgery is needed, therapy is often effective in helping a patient strengthen their thumb and recover from a sprain.

Do You Have a Sprained Thumb & Need Medical Help?

If have a sprained thumb and need medical help, it can be decidedly valuable to reach out to a knowledgeable hand/wrist surgeon. At Midwest Hand Surgery, our doctors have experience that extends beyond board certification with fellowship-level credentials. By specializing in hand, wrist, and elbow conditions, we are well-equipped to handle various injuries, including many different kinds of thumb sprains.

Our physicians prioritize a hands-on approach with all patients, unlike other practices where physician assistants do most of the work. At Midwest Hand Surgery, we also have same-day availability for severe injuries as well as surgical suites and occupational therapy to speed up the recovery process. If you need on-site treatment for a sprained thumb, contact us today to receive professional assistance.

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