Sprained Thumb: Treatment, Symptoms & Recovery Exercises 

Any body part can get sprained when it is forced away from the normal limit. This can happen to thumbs too. When the thumb gets stretched it causes a ligament tear or sprain.  

A thumb sprain mainly happens when the thumb is forced backward or into some unnatural position.  The sprains can range from minor ruptures to a ligament detachment from the bone which requires a lot of medical attention.  

In this case, the injury can be so painful that it can bring in numbness and may make your thumb feel loose or unstable. It may also weaken your ability to pinch or grasp objects between your thumb and index finger.

Sprained Thumb Causes:

The various causes of sprained thumb are:

  • A forceful back stretch.
  • Falling on an outstretched hand.
  • Injury while playing games.
  • Accidental collision of hand.
  • Accidental fall forcing the thumb in the opposite direction.

Sprained Thumb the different grades:

Thumb sprains are divided into grades depending on the severity of the injury. Which may range from grade 1 to grade 3 depending upon the degree of injury that may fall from minor to major. 

Grade 1 includes minor sprains. In this, the thumb is stretched and strained but the ligament is not torn.

Grade 2- sprain is of moderate degree in which the ligament is torn but not completely. This sprain can invoke loss of function of the thumb. 

Grade 3- includes a sprain that is severe. In this, the ligament is fully torn. It is no more attached to the bone. 

In this case, surgery could be required. In some cases when ligament tears from the bone it takes a part of the bone with it. Which is called an avulsion fracture. 

Sprained Thumb Symptoms: 

Different individuals will feel different symptoms. Which may range from bruising, pain, tenderness, swelling, etc. which can be felt at the base of the thumb next to the palm. 

When there is a major injury it may cause a lump or swelling inside the thumb. In this case, the joint will feel loose or not stable.  

Sprained Thumb Treatment:

Treatment for a sprained thumb depends on the grade of the injury. Grades may vary depending on the degree of the injury. The various treatments are:

Treatment for Grade 1 Injury:

Mostly these include minor injuries which may be treated at home only. In this case, the injury is of mild nature. 

It can be cured by using RICE which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. In this case, firstly the individual is advised to take rest for a specific time so that no extra pressure is put on the thumb. The second treatment is icing the thumb. 

This is applied several times a day almost for 20 minutes each time. 

The third treatment is compression in which a bandage is put on the sprained thumb. It has to be tight in order to cut off the blood flow. A kind of numbness is created which provides ample time to cure the injury.

The fourth treatment is an elevation in which the hand is kept raised and elevated higher than the heart.  Complete rest is advised to get away with the injury. 

With this one can take over-the-counter painkillers too. Which will help in reducing pain and swelling. In case the above treatment does not show any positive results the individual should immediately visit the doctor.  

Sprained Thumb Exercises 

Sprained Thumb How To Tape It: The Non-Surgical Treatment-

For a grade 2 thumb sprain, mostly tape is put on to reduce the pressure on the ligament so that it gets proper time to heal. It will ease pain and swelling. 

Added this the doctor may advise to put a cold pack. The ice should not be directly applied to the skin. 

The thumb should be kept on total rest as any pressure will worsen the situation rather than do any good. 

Sprained Thumb the Surgical Treatment:

For a grade 3 injury that affects the functioning of the thumb negatively one will require surgery. 

This will help regain function. The surgeon will perform surgery and repair the ligament and reconnect. 

An anchor, pin, or screw is used to attach the ligament to the bone.

How to tape a sprained thumb?

Take a tape and put it around the wrist it will help in creating a hold. Cut the tape into two parts lengthwise.  

Wrap one strip around the thumb and attach the other one passing from the index finger. Attach the remaining end to the part of the bandage around the wrist.  

Swirl the tape around the thumb making an 8. Repeat more times. Put the left tape around the wrist to make it more secure. 

Sprained Thumb Recovery Exercises:

Thumb Flexion:

This is an easy exercise that can help relax the thumb muscles. For doing the exercise keep your hand open then bend the thumb towards the palm after that bend the fingers too. 

Hold for a few seconds then return back to the initial position. Repeat the exercise for 12-15 times in a row. 

Thumb Extension:

This is another exercise to get relief from the thumb sprain pain. For doing the exercise keep your palm open and the fingers touching each other side by side. 

Keep the thumb facing the roof. At this moment the thumb will be away from the fingers. Practice the exercise as per your personal limit till you feel pain-free. 

If it hurts stop doing the exercise there only. Repeat 10-15 times for up to 2 sets per day.

Wrist Flexion and Extension:

For doing this exercise, bend the wrist in both directions as far as you feel comfortable. Keep alternating between both directions from time to time. Repeat 10-15 times for 2-3 sets.

The Bottom Line:

As discussed above Sprained Thumb can occur when the thumb gets stretched in an opposite direction. This can cause minor discomfort to major injury causing the ligament to get damaged.

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