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Gamekeeper's Thumb

What is Gamekeeper’s Thumb?

Gamekeeper's thumb, also known as skier's thumb, is a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament, a band of tissue that supports the joint at the base of the thumb.

Causes of Gamekeeper’s Thumb

Damage to the ulnar collateral ligament may lead to chronic instability of the thumb, creating problems in its normal functioning. Gamekeeper's thumb can result from sports activities (while stopping a ball with a bare hand) or a fall on your outstretched thumb (especially while holding onto something like a ski pole).

Symptoms of Gamekeeper’s Thumb

The symptoms of gamekeeper’s thumb include pain, bruising and swelling at the base of the thumb. You may also experience loss of strength when pinching or gripping with the thumb.

Diagnosis of Gamekeeper’s Thumb

To diagnose gamekeeper’s thumb, your doctor may numb your thumb and perform a physical examination. If the tear is associated with a fracture of a bone, your doctor may order an X-ray or ultrasound.

Treatment for Gamekeeper’s Thumb

Your doctor may suggest applying ice to reduce swelling and prescribe pain-relieving medications. For a partially torn ligament, your doctor may order a splint or cast for about six weeks, followed by an exercise program to improve the thumb’s range of motion. If the ligament is completely torn, surgery is usually recommended for repair.

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • Palm Beach Surgical Suits
  • Northpoint Surgery and Laser Center
  • Palms West Hospital
  • Wellington Regional Medical Center

Practice Locations

Palm Beach Orthopaedic Institute

4215 Burns Rd
Suite 100
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410

Palm Beach Orthopaedic Institute

Palm Beach Orthopaedic Institute

7701 Southern Blvd
Suite 100
West Palm Beach FL, 33411

Palm Beach Orthopaedic Institute

Palm Beach Orthopaedic Institute

1411 N Flagler Dr
Suite 9800
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Palm Beach Orthopaedic Institute