Elbow Issues

Ulnar Collateral Ligament Injuries of the Thumb

In Scottish gamekeepers, ligament damage in the MCP joint happened because the ligament stretched out after the gamekeepers repeated the same action over and over. Today, most cases of ligament damage in the MCP joint are caused from sports injuries. Now doctors tend to refer to the condition as skier’s thumb, since it happens so often in downhill ski accidents.

Any extreme force that pulls the thumb away from the palm of the hand can damage the ligaments. The most common way for this to happen is to fall on your hand with your thumb stretched out. When a skier falls down while holding a ski pole, the thumb may get bent out and back, leading to an injury in the ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb.

When the ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb is injured, the MCP joint becomes painful and swollen, and the thumb feels weak when you pinch or grasp. You may see bruise-like discolorations on the skin around the joint. The loose end of the torn ligament may form a bump that can be felt along the edge of the thumb near the palm of the hand. A torn ligament makes it difficult to hold or squeeze things between your thumb and index finger.