Skier’s Thumb: When Is it an Emergency?

Skier’s thumb is a common winter sports injury that happens when the thumb is bent backward or the ligament is torn. Most cases aren’t an emergency situation; however, if it is an open wound, seek medical care immediately, Andrew Markiewitz MD, a hand surgeon with the TriHealth Hand Surgery Specialists, explains.

How Long Can I Wait for Medical Attention?

On the other hand, when you don’t have an open injury, but are experiencing symptoms like instability, weakness or pain when you try to grip, you should have it checked by a doctor within a week. If you wait longer than two or three weeks to get your injury assessed, the injury may not be repairable and could require reconstructive surgery.

“I always tell my patients … come in, let me look at it and then I can make a quick call on what to do next,” Dr. Markiewitz says.

Treatment options typically include:

  • Stretching exercises (mild injuries)
  • A splint or cast (ligaments are partially torn)
  • Surgery (ligaments are completely torn)

Dr. Markiewitz has actually had a few patients who waited decades to seek treatment, because, for the most part, the injury hasn’t caused much discomfort or problems. “If they’ve waited years and years, then they might have arthritis at that knuckle or joint,” he explains. “In this case, reconstruction is not an option and fusion is probably the better choice.”

Tags Orthopedics