Understanding UCL injury of the thumb
The UCL of the thumb is a crucial ligament that provides stability to the joint at the middle of the thumb, known as the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint. This ligament helps to maintain the alignment of the thumb and enables pinch and grasp activities. An injury to the UCL can affect the thumb's functionality and cause pain.
Causes of UCL injury
UCL injuries of the thumb often result from the following causes:
Trauma: A sudden force or impact on the thumb, such as a fall or a direct blow, can stretch or tear the UCL.
Sports activities: Athletes, particularly those in sports that involve gripping and twisting motions, like skiing or basketball, are at a higher risk of UCL injuries.
Repetitive use: Overtime the ligament becomes weaker through excessive or repetitive load.
Symptoms of UCL injury
Common symptoms of a UCL injury of the thumb include:
Pain: Pain at the middle of the thumb, especially when pinching or grasping objects.
Swelling: Swelling around the MCP joint of the thumb.
Weakness: Reduced strength in the thumb, making it challenging to grip or pinch objects.
Bruising: Discoloration or bruising at the site of the injury.
Instability: A feeling of looseness or instability in the thumb joint.
Treatment for UCL injury
The treatment approach for a UCL injury depends on its severity. Common treatment options include:
Consult with an expert: An Accredited Hand Therapist is a physiotherapist or occupational therapist with expertise in the finger, hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder.
Immobilisation: Immobilising the thumb with an orthosis, brace or cast to allow the ligament to heal.