Ulnar Collateral Ligament Injury of the Thumb

ExitCare ImageUlnar collateral ligament (UCL) injury occurs when the UCL ligament at the base of the thumb is stretched or torn. The UCL ligament is important for normal use of the thumb. This ligament helps in motions, such as grabbing or pinching. Sprains are classified into 3 categories:

SYMPTOMS

CAUSES

A UCL injury is caused by forcefully moving the thumb past its normal range of motion. This most commonly occurs when falling onto outstretched hands, while holding on to a ski pole, or in baseball (when making an awkward catch). Normally, the UCL prevents the thumb from straightening the thumb towards the forearm or wrist.

RISK INCREASES WITH:

PREVENTION

PROGNOSIS

The length of healing time depends on the severity of injury. In general:

RELATED COMPLICATIONS

TREATMENT

Treatment initially consists of ice, medicine, and compressive bandaging to help reduce pain and inflammation. The thumb and wrist should be restrained (immobilized) to allow for healing. If the tear is complete, then surgery is often necessary to repair the damaged ligament.

MEDICATION

HEAT AND COLD

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF: