The Truth About Skiing

Skier’s thumb – a very frequent injury

Broken skier's thumbA thumb injury (popularly known as skier’s thumb) is the sixth most common injury to befall skiers, and accounts for around 5% of all ski injuries. It’s also the most common injury in the upper extremities among skiers. Skier’s thumb is also known to affect snowboarders, when they awkwardly fall on their thumbs – although this is far less frequently the case. Skier’s thumb is sustained when the ski pole handle remains in the palm while falling against the hand, thereby exerting a force on the wrist, which leads to the stretching and damaging of the thumb. It’s actually a consequence of the thumb moving away from the palm while excessively stretching. The injury sometimes occurs when a skier thrusts his pole into the snow, but is unable to pull it out, and while moving forward this motion results in a thumb injury.

There are three degrees of skier’s thumb injury – (1) strain, (2) partial rupture and (3) complete rupture of the ligament fibers. The main symptom is pain that is not too intense while resting, but increases significantly when moving your thumb. Soon a swelling occurs at the base of the thumb.

With each thumb injury, you’ll need to immobilize the hand and wrist, and to lift the injured hand to an elevated position. If you’re skiing, hold your injured hand with the healthy one in an elevated position. To reduce the pain and swelling of a skier’s thumb, it’s important to cool the injured hand with snow, or put ice on the swollen area. Keep the snow in place for about ten minutes, and have a ten-minute break until the arrival of the doctor. Be careful not to hold the snow against the bare skin, and don’t massage the injured area. Regardless of the intensity of the pain, it’s important to have the thumb examined by a doctor as soon as possible, who will determine what exactly has been injured and prescribe further treatment.

This is an important rule-when you are immobilizing your injury, immobilize it so the upper joint also stays fixed!

The time of recovery depends on a skier’s thumb injury level. It might last for six weeks and longer.

How to use your ski pole properly and protect yourself from getting a skier’s thumb

Unfortunately, at the moment there is no special technique or form of equipment that can protect you from skier’s thumb. For now, the best prevention is to use your ski pole belt properly. Put your hand through the bottom of the strap, and hold your ski pole handle over the strap. In this way, you can quickly drop the pole in the event of danger, and protect your thumb while the pole remains secured with its strap around your wrist. The moment you drop your pole from your hand, it falls below the wrist level. That means that you are holding them in the right manner and the risk of getting a skier’s thumb is drastically smaller.

Prevention of skier's thumb

Prevention of skier's thumb

Get well-informed in order to avoid skier’s thumb and other painful injuries

The most common injuries besides skier’s thumb are head, neck, knee, shoulder, spinal, wrist, and ankle traumas. The information about how to prevent or decrease the chance to get skier’s thumb or some other hurtful type of injury lies in our book. It would also lead you how to prepare physically, how to exercise adequately in order to avoid different kinds of traumas, and most important of all-the pain. Remember that one of the very important risk factors is you and your preparation for the snow. Your knowledge and the appropriate equipment could save you and people around you from unnecessary injuries, like skier’s thumb. Find out more about it!

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