Management of a sprained thumb  

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A sprain is an injury that is caused to the soft tissues found around the joint. Muscles, ligaments and tendons that are attached to the bones function in moving and keeping them in place. In a sprain, the muscles, tendons and the ligaments are stretched and torn.

Sprained thumb are common in people who participate in sports. In thumb sprain, the joint capsule, ligament or the cartilage of the thumb gets affected, and it takes 2 to 6 weeks for a thumb sprain to heal.

Sprained thumb causes

Sprained thumb
Stiffness and pain during when getting up in the morning
  • Sprained thumb is common among people playing ball sports such as basketball and netball. It is caused by a hyperextension force which is the backward bending of the thumb or hyper flexion force which is excessive forward bending of the thumb or sideways force.
  • Thumb sprains can happen in contact sports caused by a collision with another player or when tackling and in martial arts such as blocking a punch or kicking with the thumb.
  • Thumb sprains can happen in skiing when one of the hand poles forces the thumb backwards during an uncomfortable landing or falling.
  • Sometimes, a sprained thumb can be caused by a repetitive strain with overuse such as performing repetitive activities that involves the range of movements of the thumb particularly typing.

Symptoms of sprained thumb

  • Thumb pain while doing certain activities
  • Inability to grasp an object between the thumb and finger and a feeling of weakness in the thumb.
  • Stiffness and pain during when getting up in the morning
  • Pain and stiffness on the affected joint or the sides.
  • There is an unusual snapping sound that can be heard during the injury.
  • The affected area is swollen along with pain that sometimes spreads to the hands and wrist of the affected side
  • Symptoms becomes worse by engaging in activities such as typing, texting messages or doing any household activities
  • There are bruises and visible color changes in the skin and the affected joint is tender when touched.

Treatment and home remedies for a sprained thumb

  • The individual should rest the damaged thumb for at least 48 hours.
  • Avoid moving the thumb joint and avoid engaging in activities that require the use of the thumb.
  • Apply an ice pack immediately after the injury at least for 20 minutes, then take the ice compress off for 20 minutes then reapply. Perform this treatment option for the first 48 hours of the injury in order to lower the temperature of the affected area and minimize the swelling.
  • Wear a brace or wrap on the sprained thumb and apply compression around the affected area in order to stabilize and immobilize the thumb. These heal the thumb by minimizing movement and the buildup of fluids. A wrap bandage is effective for a sprained thumb, but if a sprain in severe, there is a need to use a spica splint where the thumb is completely immobilized.

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