SKIER'S/ GAMEKEEPER'S THUMB
This is a specific type of injury of the joint where the thumb joins the palm, on the index finger side of the thumb.
Usually, a fall, some how catching the thumb on the way down. When skiing, the thumb may be injured in a fall, caught in the ski pole loop - referred to as a "ski pole thumb" - the same injury.
When the thumb is pushed sideways away from the index finger, the ligament connection between the bones may be torn. Usually, just the ligament is torn, but a small chip of bone may be torn off as well.
Actually, the name "gamekeeper's thumb" is an old expression, referring not to a sudden injury, but to stretching this ligament out over a long time by pushing hard again and again - doing a particular thing that gamekeepers used to do by hand...
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Ice, elevation, and have it checked out by a doctor. If the thumb is bruised at this joint, it is likely that you broke or tore something - and you should have it looked at.
WHAT CAN A DOCTOR DO TO HELP?
Confirm that this is the problem. X-rays are usually needed to show exactly what and how bad the problem is. Treatment really depends on the type of injury Your doctor may recommend:
•moving the fingers and doing exercises right away
•wearing a splint or a cast
•having surgery to repair the ligament (or the bone chip), possibly using hardware (pins, screws, wires, etc.) to hold the joint in place.
HOW SUCCESSFUL IS TREATMENT?
The great majority of people who have surgery for an unstable gamekeeper's thumb are better off than if they had not had surgery. The longer one goes between injury and surgery, the less likely things will be great after surgery. The biggest problems people have, with or without surgery, are stiffness and some pain with use. This is true for any significant injury of this joint.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON'T HAVE TREATMENT?
You may do well, then develop painful arthritis of the joint years later. Surgical repair is technically possible for many months after injury, but results of late intervention are not as reliable, and usually not as good.