Orthopaedics

What is a Jammed Thumb?

A jammed thumb may be described as an injured tendon or bone situated in the thumb tip. This is also referred to as a skier’s thumb and a baseball finger or mallet finger. A person can be affected with this condition when the tip of the thumb gets jammed or hit by something. This condition is most common in athletes and sports persons. Read on for signs and symptoms, causes and treatment of jammed thumb.

Signs and Symptoms of Jammed Thumb:

Following are some of the signs and symptoms of jammed thumb.

  • Pain in the thumb
  • Swelling
  • Redness of the thumb

Causes of Jammed Thumb:

Several reasons lead to jammed thumb. Following are some of them:

  • Often, jammed thumb occurs when the thumb gets bent in an unnatural or abnormal way.
  • Hitting against a firm and hard surface such as a ball, floor, ground or another human while playing sports may cause jammed thumb.

The ligament or tendon may get torn or stretched or the bone may get fractured. In some cases, the ligament which gets injured commonly in jammed thumb is collateral ligament.

Treatment for Jammed Thumb:

If the thumb gets injured, assess its movement to know the extent of the injury. If it is difficult to move the thumb, there might be a fracture in the thumb. Otherwise, a sprain might have developed in the thumb. Both these conditions need medical attention. However, sprain may be treated at home.

Wrap an ice cube in a clean washcloth and gently rub it on the injured thumb. If your jammed thumb is not due to broken bone, then this remedy may be helpful. Alternatively, you can dip a cloth in ice water and can keep it on the injured thumb. Leave it for about 10 – 15 minutes till the pain subsides.

You may use a bandage or a splint on the affected thumb. Immobilization prevents worsening of the symptoms. One may also use over the counter pain relievers to alleviate the pain. Ensure that you’re not allergic to any pain reliever medication.

Consult the physician if the symptoms do not subside by following certain home remedies. He may suggest to take an X-ray to determine bone fracture. He examines the thumb to know whether the ligament or tendon is injured or not. Physician may use a splint or a cast as part of the treatment. Splint or cast is used for holding the ligament. This assists the healing process, especially if radial collateral ligaments are torn partially. If ulnar collateral ligament is broken completely, the physician sucks its end behind a tendon. Reconstruction and surgical treatment is required for ligament tears.

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