Gamekeeper's Thumb

Institutes & Services > TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute

TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute is consistently at the forefront of the latest advances in hand treatments. Specializing in ligament sprains, tears and degenerative conditions like Gamekeeper’s thumb, we offer innovative surgical and nonsurgical treatments from a collaborative team of orthopedic experts.

Gamekeeper’s Thumb

Gamekeeper’s thumb is a condition that occurs when the inner ligament at the base of the thumb (the ulnar collateral ligament) is injured due to overuse or trauma. When sudden injury is the cause, the condition is usually called Skier’s thumb.

Gamekeeper’s thumb causes

Gamekeeper’s thumb is the result of degeneration and prolonged stress on the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). Skier’s thumb is a common injury when skiers fall on their hands while still holding their poles. Both types of ligament injuries can be caused by:

  • Activities that require a tight grip, such as tennis, golf or skiing
  • Falls
  • High-impact sports

Gamekeeper’s thumb symptoms

Symptoms of Gamekeeper’s thumb or a UCL tear in the thumb may include:

  • Bruising
  • Inability to move the thumb
  • Joint pain
  • Misaligned thumb
  • Swelling
  • Weakened grip

Gamekeeper’s thumb treatment

Treatment for Gamekeeper’s thumb, Skier’s thumb or another type of thumb ligament tear will depend on the severity of the injury. Nonsurgical treatments may be sufficient to reduce swelling and stabilize the joint as the ligament heals. The most common conservative treatments include:

  • Cast
  • RICE (Rest, ice, compression, elevation)
  • Splint

If the ligament tear is complete, UCL surgery may be necessary. During thumb ligament surgery, the doctor will stabilize the torn tissue. After the ligament is repaired, physical therapy may be necessary to regain full mobility and range of motion in the thumb joint.

Gamekeeper’s thumb risk factors

Certain risk factors can increase your chances of developing Gamekeeper’s thumb, including:

  • High-impact sports like rugby or football
  • Trauma

Gamekeeper’s thumb prevention

These are the best ways to prevent Gamekeeper’s thumb, Skier’s thumb or another type of thumb ligament tear:

  • Avoiding contact sports
  • Being careful not to catch your thumb on objects

Make an appointment

A finger injury like Gamekeeper’s thumb can be extremely painful and can prevent you from enjoying the activities you love. Fast, effective treatment from TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute can help relieve your pain and prevent lasting joint damage. Call 513 246 7846 to learn more.

We are physicians, hospitals and communities working together to help you live better.