When to Seek Medical Care continued...
If you determine that skier's thumb is possible, considering the way your accident happened, then you should be taken by car to a hospital's emergency department. There is no need to go by ambulance unless that is your only means of transportation or there is another more serious injury associated with the accident.
An alternative to the emergency department would be an office visit to an orthopedic surgeon (bone specialist) or hand surgeon's clinic. If an orthopedic surgeon is available to see you on the day of your injury, it is more efficient to go see the surgeon directly instead of from the emergency department's referral.
Exams and Tests
The physician will first make sure you have no other limb-threatening injuries and then evaluate your thumb in more detail.
The doctor will ask you how the injury happened. Be prepared to answer these questions:
- At what time did your injury take place?
- What was the exact positioning of your hand and thumb during the injury?
- How soon after the injury did the pain and swelling begin?
- Did it feel as if your thumb was stressed beyond its normal range of motion?
The doctor will also ask about your past medical history. Be prepared to answer these questions:
- Have you ever suffered from a similar injury before?
- Have you ever had any type of surgery in your hand or wrist?
- Are you allergic to any pain medications?
- Have you ever fractured any bones in your wrist or hand?
- Are you right-handed or left-handed?
- What is your primary occupation?
The doctor will then perform a physical examination and include the following tests:
- A comparison of the movement of the injured thumb with that of the uninjured thumb looking for looseness of the ligament
- An assessment of how well the major nerves in your hand function
- A check for fractures, including an X-ray of your hand to make sure no bones are broken
- An examination of the rest of your arm for any associated injuries to your wrist, forearm, elbow, and shoulder