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Skier's Thumb


Skier's thumb, or gamekeeper's thumb, is when a ligament in your thumb is twisted or torn. Ligaments are strong tissues that connect bones and keep your joints secure.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


Pain medicine:

Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.
  • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.
  • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.


  • X-ray: This picture will show bone position. You may need more than one x-ray.
  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your thumb. An MRI may show ligament and bone position. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the caregiver if you have any metal in or on your body.


  • Support devices: Support devices include a removable thumb cast, brace, or splint. These are used to decrease or prevent movement of your thumb so it can heal. They are also used to prevent further damage to your thumb. These devices may be worn for 3 to 6 weeks. This may be the only treatment you need if your injury is not severe.
  • Surgery: Surgery is only done if your injury is severe. A graft (healthy tissue) may be taken from another area of your body to replace a torn ligament. Broken bones will also be fixed during surgery. Wires and screws may be used to hold your bones together while your ligament heals. You will need to wear a support device after your surgery.


  • Support devices may cause discomfort in your fingers or hand. You may bleed more than expected or get an infection after surgery. Muscles and nerves may be damaged during surgery. The wires or screws used in surgery may cause small bone fractures. Wires used during surgery may loosen and move out of place in your hand. Even after treatment, you may still feel pain, and your thumb may not return to normal.
  • Without treatment, your thumb may become unstable. Tissues may get trapped between the bone and the injured ligament. This may increase your pain and further decrease your thumb movement. If you have a broken thumb, it may not heal properly. Your joint may become stiff and you may develop long-term pain.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Skier's Thumb (Inpatient Care)

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