Acquire the license to the best health content in the world
Contact Us

Skirt Skier's Thumb

Protect them when you fall down on slopes

SUNDAY, Feb. 15, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- If you ski, you know that tumbling down the slopes is inevitable.

For one in 10 skiers, a fall will probably result in an injury known as skier's thumb, says Dr. Robert Hunter, a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

"Skier's thumb is a rupture of the ligament in the thumb that keeps your thumb from flopping over," says Hunter. "The reason it happens so frequently in skiing is because you're holding a ski pole in your hand." Rather than falling with your palms open, your thumb is what hits the ground first and it's forced backwards, which can strain or tear the ligament, Hunter explains.

The injury is immediately painful, and afterwards the most noticeable symptom will be a feeling of weakness.

Less serious cases of skier's thumb can be treated with a removable splint, but if the ligament is torn, surgery is almost always necessary, Hunter says. The good news, he adds, is the surgery is done with local anesthetic, and you can be fitted with a special cast that lets you hit the slopes again the very next day.

To prevent the injury, Hunter recommends not using a strap on your poles and letting go of your poles as soon as you start to fall. "It's a lot less inconvenient to trudge back up the hill after your poles than to have to come see me for surgery," Hunter quips.

More information

The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine offers these tips for avoiding ski injuries.

SOURCES: Robert Hunter, M.D., spokesman, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Aspen, Colo.; The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Consumer News