Torn ligament on the thumb


A torn ligament on the thumb is often referred to as a skier's thumb and is a very common consequence of a sports injury. If the thumb is overstretched to the outside, the inner collateral ligament of the thumb-base joint tears or breaks off.
A torn ligament is called a ski thumb because a stuck ski pole can spread the thumb excessively from the hand and the injury occurs. But also in other sports such as basketball, soccer or in everyday life, an accident can tear the thumb ligament.

If a torn ligament on the thumb is suspected, a doctor should be consulted, as an inadequately treated skier's thumb can lead to consequential damage such as misalignment of the basic thumb joint or permanent joint instability. Overloading of the wrist joint of the thumb, which leads to joint wear (osteoarthritis), is a possible complication without treatment.

Do you have pain in your thumb, but you are not sure whether it is just overstretched?

  • This article might also interest you: Overstretched thumb

What is a ski thumb?

A skier's thumb is an acute sports injury in which there is a (partial) tear on a ligament of the thumb base joint. It is the ulnar collateral ligament, a ligament that runs inside the thumb towards the index finger. In healthy people, the ulnar collateral ligament is responsible for stabilizing the thumb joint laterally. It secures the thumb in extension and flexion and prevents it from kinking to the side. This type of ligament tear is called a skier's thumb because it is one of the most common acute sports injuries in skiing.
A skier's thumb can also arise from other sports injuries or, rarely, from chronic damage to the collateral ligament. In the skier's thumb, the ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb can tear completely or partially. The tape often tears at the distal end. The cause of the (partial) tear of the ligament is a lateral kinking of the thumb during an accident.
Discomfort with a skier's thumb is an instability in the thumb. The thumb swells up and becomes very painful on pressure. The thumb can often be opened to the side. A complete rupture of the collateral ligament is usually operated on, while a partial rupture can be treated conservatively.

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A torn ligament on the thumb is first and foremost very painful. The pain occurs immediately after the tape is torn and is usually caused by pressure on the affected area burden and Move of the thumb reinforced. In addition, one typically occurs swelling and one bruise (Hematoma) on the Thumb base.

In some cases, the torn ligament causes the thumb to spread abnormally to one side. Most of the time, the thumb can no longer be used to grip forcefully and the thumb gives way or kinks to the side when it is under pressure. Gripping or pressing are only possible to a very limited extent.

After a few days, the pain often improves, but the torn ligament should still be treated, as secondary damage can occur without treatment.

typical pain

In most cases it comes in Torn ligament on the thumb, especially immediately after the accident, associated with severe pain. The usual rules of the First aiduntil a doctor can be seen. To relieve the pain, the injured should hand be stored high and kept calm. cooling using cooling compresses or cold water is also useful to relieve pain and prevent swelling.

If the pain does not get better with the measures mentioned, pain medication such as Ibuprofen be taken. The recommended dose as stated in the package insert should not be exceeded.


The thumb is that most flexible fingerswhich is stabilized by various ligaments. Tapes support the respective joint and guide the movement of the finger. Overstretching or suddenly tugging the thumb can cause a tear (Rupture) of a ligament, which leads to instability of the joint. A typical torn ligament on the thumb is an injury to the inner collateral ligament. This is traditionally the case with excessive Abspreitzung of the thumb from the other fingers, for example in the event of a fall while skiing while the thumb is unhappy in the loop of the ski poles. Basically, however, in any sport in which the thumb is heavily stressed due to an accident, a ligament on the thumb can tear. Martial arts, floor gymnastics, apparatus gymnastics and ball sports, for example, are particularly at risk.


A Torn ligament on the thumb usually heals well and completely. Early treatment of the injury and regular follow-up care are particularly important for a good healing prospect. Both the conservative as well as the operative therapy usually a period of around six weeks until exercise therapy can be started and the healing process is complete. However, no later than three months after the injury, the thumb should be fully resilient again.

If a torn ligament in the thumb is not treated or not treated properly, complications or long-term consequences such as a malalignment of the thumb base joint can occur.


If that The thumb tape torn off completely and possibly additional bony tears or fractures (Fractures), surgery is usually necessary. To restore the structure of the collateral ligament and to stabilize the thumb in the long term, the ligament should be operated on in these cases.

To operate on the torn ligament on the thumb, the remaining ligament remnants are sewn together or with the help of a Tendon piece newly reconstructed. Often bony structures are also injured because the ligament is firmly attached to the bone and a piece of bone can tear out in the event of an accident. For this reason it is often necessary to use threads or screws Fixation of the bone and the joint to use. After the operation, the thumb is immobilized for a few weeks, which is usually done with a plaster cast.

The Immobilization a plaster of paris is usually done in a plaster splint, which immobilizes all joints of the thumb except for the end joint. To inspect the wound, the plaster of paris is usually changed two to three times, except that it can be changed using a thumb splint until it is immobilized. This is followed by a Exercise therapy under the guidance of a physiotherapist.

Taping, plaster and splint

A conservative therapy A thumb ligament tear without surgery usually only occurs in one Overstretching of the thumb ligament or if the tape is just torn, into consideration. The thumb must be immobilized so that the ligament can heal completely again. The typical methods for doing this represent a Thumb splint, a plaster or a firm tape bandage represent.

This immobilization by taping, plastering, or a splint must be done for about four to six weeks, as the ligaments and tendons take longer to heal. After this time, under the guidance of a physiotherapist, you should begin to move the thumb slowly again in order to restore the thumb to its original stability and mobility.


A torn ligament on the thumb can usually only be difficult to prevent, since the injury usually happens during sports. It can make sense not to use ski poles when skiing or to use a tape bandage around the metacarpophalangeal joint of the thumb as a preventive measure when playing ball sports, which involve a higher risk of finger injuries. In this way, overstretching of the inner lateral ligament can possibly be reduced.