What is the Ulnar Collateral Ligament?

Also known by its acronym (UCL), this is an important ligament on the inside of the thumb. Skiers often injure this as they fall, hence the name skier’s thumb. If damaged, symptoms may include pain and difficulty gripping with the thumb.

I think I have a skier’s thumb, what should I do?

The first step conducted by the hand doctor will be an examination followed by either an ultrasound or MRI scan to examine the extent and localisation of the injury. In many cases x-rays can also be helpful to identify and assess the suspected injury.

What next? How is it treated?

This process is entirely dependent on how badly the patient has injured the ligament, in the consultation process the hand doctor will provide advice on the best action to take. Partial ligament tears or bad sprains can be treated without surgery. A splint or support is often sufficient action followed by specialist physiotherapy. However, more significant injuries may require surgery.

Do I need surgery immediately?

No, not necessarily, if detected early enough, a torn ligament can be directly repaired within two weeks of the injury with great results and only the most extreme cases should require surgery.