Skier's Thumb - A common injury for XC Skiers

Skiers thumb image
Skier's thumb is a common injury among XC skiers.  Photo credit to BSSH

Avoiding injury is often the most challenging part of working toward peak fitness.  There are many injuries that XC skiers can suffer while training, but one of the more painful ones that leaves you feeling helpless is "skier's thumb".  Just recently, I've spoke with a number of skiers whom have suffered this injury.

Skier's thumb is a injury common among XC skiers which happens when you fall onto your outstretched thumb (crash and land on your thumb), usually when you hand is gripping something (like a ski pole). 

The result is usually unpleasant with bruising, swelling, and sharp pain.  Amongst the skiers I know that have suffered skier's thumb (including myself), the condition slowly improves and usually heals completely on it's own.  However, sometimes serious medical treatment is necessary immediately - if in doubt, see your doctor.

Each time I’ve jammed my thumb, the skier's thumb seems to be worse than the prior time and recovery takes longer than the prior time.  In fact, it seems that one of the joints in my thumbs is slightly but permanently swollen - this would be due to the fact that one of my Ulnar Collateral Ligaments are torn and not fully healing.

Again, the rule of thumb (pun intended) is to definitely go in and get it checked out by a doctor, especially if it is black and blue, although I’ve had a black and blue thumb with no breaks or fractures.  Icing it and taking an anti-inflammatory (like Ibuprofen) is generally also a good thing to do.  In severe cases, splinting, physical therapy, or surgery may be necessary.

If you’re certain there is no break, a good massage therapist could likely help by breaking up some of the inflammation and accelerating the healing process.  While this is painful, I’ve found massage to dramatically speed up the healing process of such injuries.  Quality chiropractic care can also help to realign any subluxations, which are common when your hand or other area of your body sustains such an injury.


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