The thumb is one of the important fingers of the hand and essential in performing a number of vital tasks such as writing, eating, etc. A broken thumb refers to a condition involving a fracture of any of the two tiny bones, i.e. phalanges, which occur in the thumb. A broken thumb is a rare occurrence as opposed to a broken finger.
Symptoms of a broken thumb
Some of the signs and symptoms of a broken thumb are listed below:
- The affected individual may experience immediate pain, which is quite intense and throbbing
- Quick development of bruising and swelling of the broken thumb, often accompanied by redness
- Pain may be experienced when trying to move the broken thumb or grip an object
- In case of an open fracture, bleeding may occur at the location of injury
- There may be a clicking sound when trying to move the thumb
- The broken thumb may experience lack of sensation or numbness
- Loss or inability to move the thumb or a particular joint of the thumb
It may be noted that a simple fracture affecting any of the phalanges is somewhat easier to treat and heals better. However, a fracture occurring at the end of either of the bones, next to the joint, is more problematic to treat. This is particular true of the Rolando fracture and the Bennett fracture, which affect the joint between the wrist and the first metacarpal.
- It may be noted that broken thumbs are quite rare, due to the fact that it is opposible and shorter as compared to other fingers, and that its bones are thicker.
- There are many possible causes for a broken thumb. Most cases of a broken thumb are caused while engaging in outdoor sports such as football, cricket, etc; or while closing or opening windows and doors; or while operating some devices. Accidents which are a common cause of bodily injuries can also result in a broken thumb. Some individuals are at increased risk to thumb fractures due to the presence of an underlying bone condition such as osteoporosis
Treatment of a broken thumb
- Individuals affected by a broken thumb may use an ice pack on the thumb, elevate the hand above the level of the heart to decrease swelling or bleeding, and visit a doctor as soon as possible.
- In case of a simple fracture wherein there is no displacement of bone, the doctor may immobilize the broken thumb in a thumb spica cast. Younger individuals tend to heal quicker. Hence, as per the age of the patient, the cast is kept set for three to six weeks. In certain instances, a more lightweight splint can be recommended by the doctor.
- In complicated instances of a broken thumb involving displacement of the bones or presence of bone debris, a doctor may suggest surgical repair of the fracture. The bone fragments are realigned and positioned in the correct place with pins. Then the thumb is immobilized for many weeks.
- Post the immobilization period, physical therapy for the thumb may be necessary for regaining the full range of motion and strength
- The use of correct protective gear like padding, gloves or taping can help in the prevention of many cases of broken thumbs and finger fractures, while engaging in sports.
Broken Thumb Pictures