Ulnar Collateral Ligament Injuries Of The Thumb

by Administrator 27. March 2017 06:32

Ulnar collateral ligament is a band of tissues attached to the middle joint (metacarpophalangeal joint) of the thumb. Any disruption or damage to this ligament is termed as UCL Injury. The condition leads to an unstable thumb and is also referred to as a Gamekeeper’s Thumb.

Causes

  • An extreme force that pulls away the thumb from the palm during a fall or accident
  • Injuries while playing sports

Symptoms

  • Pain and swelling
  • Weakness in the thumb
  • Bruise like discolorations on the skin and around the joint
  • Bump at the edge of the thumb
  • Difficulty in holding and squeezing things between your thumb and index finger

Diagnosis

  • The doctor may conduct a valgus stress test to evaluate the severity of joint damage. The patient may be given a local anesthetic prior to this test. During the evaluation, the doctor may push the thumb backwards in different directions to determine joint’s stability. If the joint holds steady, it may reflect a slight sprain or a partial tear. In case the joint appears to be loose, it may be a sign of a complete rupture.
  • He may also ask the patient to get an X-ray test to have a clearer picture of the condition.

Treatment –

Non-Surgical Treatment

If there is a minor injury, the doctor may immobilize the thumb by putting it in a special cast (thumb spica cast). The patient may also be asked to do some exercises to restore thumb’s strength and range of motion.

Surgical Treatment

  • Suture Repair: An outpatient surgery may be performed by the orthopedic surgeon to treat the injury. In this, the surgeon may make a small V or S-shaped cut at the back of the thumb joint. He may then reach out to the joint by cutting a sheet of tissue called adductor aponeurosis. Following this, stitches are made to join the torn ligaments and anchor them back to the bone.
  • Fusion Surgery: An unstable thumb may eventually lead to Arthritis, so it is important that the condition is prevented. For this, the doctor may conduct a fusion surgery, in which the thumb joints are fused together to restrict their excessive motion.

For comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of ulnar collateral ligament injuries, visit Dr. Christopher D. Allmon. He is board certified hand and wrist surgeon practising in Carrollton, TX. To schedule an appointment with the surgeon, call at (972) 492 – 1334.

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