Accessibility Tools
Skier's thumb

Skier's thumb, which sometimes is termed Gamekeeper's thumb (for a chronic injury), is an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the thumb. Essentially, the thumb will typically be pulled "outwards" away from the small finger. This causes significant pain on the inside of the thumb. Sprains or tears without retraction can sometimes be treated with a splint or a brace for 4-6 weeks. However, there are times when the ligament itself will be displaced, and sometimes even trapped above a structure called the adductor aponeurosis. When this happens, it's called a Stener lesion, and surgical repair is indicated. 

Recovery time after sugery typically involves a brace or a cast for 4-6 weeks, followed by therapy. Return to sports will depend on the type of repair versus reconstruction that is performed. Traditionally, return to sports could be as longer than 3 months, but newer techniques have changed the timeline and many can return within about 6 weeks.

So if you have a thumb injury in which your thumb was accidentally bent the wrong way, come in for an evaluation so that you don't miss a potential UCL injury. 

Randy Luo

  • American Society for Surgery of the Hand
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Texas Medical Association