Your exam shows you have a sprained thumb. This means the ligaments around the joint have been torn. Thumb sprains usually take 3-6 weeks to heal. However, severe, unstable sprains may need to be fixed surgically. Sometimes a small piece of bone is pulled off by the ligament. If this is not treated properly, a sprained thumb can lead to a painful, weak joint. Treatment helps reduce pain and shortens the period of disability.
The thumb, and often the wrist, must remain splinted for the first 2-4 weeks to protect the joint. Keep your hand elevated and apply ice packs frequently to the injured area (20-30 minutes every 2-3 hours) for the next 2-4 days. This helps reduce swelling and control pain. Pain medicine may also be used for several days. Motion and strengthening exercises may later be prescribed for the joint to return to normal function. Be sure to see your doctor for follow-up because your thumb joint may require further support with splints, bandages or tape. Please see your doctor or go to the emergency room right away if you have increased pain despite proper treatment, or a numb, cold, or pale thumb.