Hand surgeon Mark Yuhas, MD answers your questions about thumb sprains.
I have a painful thumb joint after an injury. Could this be a sprained thumb?
Yes. A thumb sprain refers to an injury or tear of the thumb joint ligaments. A ligament attaches to bones around a joint to keep it stable. The most common thumb ligament injury is the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL, side of thumb closest to the fingers). The radial collateral ligament (RCL, outside part of thumb) or volar plate (palm side) of the thumb may also be injured. The metacarpophalangeal joint (MCP, joint where the thumb connects to the hand) is most often involved in a thumb sprain.
How do thumb sprains usually occur?
An abnormal bending of the thumb joint typically causes a thumb sprain. The forceful bending can be from the side (classically as in holding a ski pole during a fall) or by a hyperextension (bending back) of the thumb. A fall onto an outstretched hand or a “jammed” thumb, such as during contact from a ball or during sports can result in a thumb sprain.