Skiers Thumb or also known as Gamekeepers Thumb is an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the thumb.  The UCL is located along the inner side portion of the thumb closest to the index finger.  The UCL can often be injured as a result of a forceful abduction of the thumb such as falling on an outstretched hand while holding a ski pole or an object such as a ball pushing the thumb back.  

This injury is noted by pain, swelling, laxity and bruising along the inner border of the thumb.  Initial diagnostics should involve a plain X-ray, an ultrasound and/or magnetic resonance imaging.

Treatment can be conservative or involve surgical management depending on the severity of the injury.  For a partial tear, some professionals suggest conservative treatment such as casting or splinting the joint.  For a complete tear to the UCL, it is strongly encouraged to undergo surgery for proper repair to the ligament.

If a UCL tear is not properly managed or misdiagnosed, it can lead to long term instability, pain and functional limitations of the thumb.

Jessica Thomas MS, ATC
Z Team