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UCL Thumb Injury Question... - Page 2

post #31 of 56
My scar looked hideous at that time too....it does get better.  Other people probaby wouldn't notice my scar unless they inspected my hands or knew to look for it, but I unfortunately look at it all the time.  My PT gave me a gel type pad that you can put on the scar overnight once it's completely closed and healed (I didn't do this until 2 months after surgery) and that helped it fade.
post #32 of 56

I have a torn UCL in my left Thumb.  The Xray shows it tore away part of the bone.  I waited 6 weeks to see the doc.  he is recommending surgery.  He said it may require a ligament graft since I waited so long.  Has anyone had this surgery and how well did it go?  My thumb has a big bump and i am able to use it ok.  The doc says it will get worse later in life.  Should I get surgery or roll the dice and wait

post #33 of 56

I got a bobo on my thumb last year (bad enough to make me ditch my ski poles).  When the swelling didn't go down after three days I went to emerge.  After waiting in emerge for 3 hours I found out it would be another 11 hour wait.  Since I figured all the bones seemed to be lined up correctly, I just went home.  It's been over a year, and I'm guessing it will be another six months before the thumb is back to normal. 


I've reached "later in life". All my old untreated injuries (and some of the treated ones) are making themselves known. 


Doc is probably right.  However, since half of all Graduating Docs graduate in the bottom half of their class, you should get a second opinion.    Go for surgery if 2nd opinion concurs.

post #34 of 56

Hi Jamie,  Thanks for the quick email.  I screwed up not seeing a doc sooner.  The doc said my thumb was surprizingly stable considering the injury.  Its been 7 weeks since the injury.  I have excellent strength and minor pain.  I opted not to have surgery since I figured I already missed the window of an easy fix.  I have freinds who have mangeled thumbs and I thought of well.  Surgery has risks.  Am I screwing up by not getting it fixed.  I do have the steiners leision and a slight displacement of the thumb.  The Xray showed the ligament pulled a peice of the bone away.   I can pinch real well and hold most anything.  I thought maybe with time it would get stronger and have less pain.  I am an airline pilot for Delta.  X Army helo pilot turned fix wing driver.  I am not sure what to do.  The doc I went to was a hand specialist and he said I did have the option to not do anything.  risks as you said arthritis and further instability.   Should I flip a coin or wait it out?  Dave

post #35 of 56

Do you feel the surgery was beneficial?  I am not in much pain and have good stability.  I have good strength.  The doc said long term issues could result from not having surgery.  The injury is 2 months old now and most likely will require a ligament graff.   The Xray showed a bone chip as a result of the UCL pulling so hard.  I am not sure what the long term issues would be if I did nothing or should I suck it up and get the surgery done.  How common and complicated is the procedure

post #36 of 56

Because I do so much work with my hands (I'm a skin cancer surgeon) I felt like I had no choice and got it fixed.  I'm glad I did.  I don't even notice it now.  For hand surgeons, this is pretty straightforward "bread-and-butter" stuff. Obviously surgery has risks.  I chose to have surgery because I just wanted to do what I could to retain as much function as possible and minimize the chances of arthritis later.  YMMV.  Hope this helps.

post #37 of 56

I, too, had surgery. I had a stener lesion as well. (Damned pistol-grip poles...) My thumb was just toast...could bend it all the way around and have it touch the inside of my wrist, and it didn't hurt. There was just nothing left.


I had the "bread-and-butter" surgery: small incision on the inside of the thumb; re-attached the ligament with an anchor point, and then a pin driven into the thumb to stabilize it while the ligament healed. Had surgery at the end of March, and I am still in the middle of physical therapy.

post #38 of 56

I had a tear of my thumb's UCL in which a fragment of bone pulled away.  I had surgery to reattach the ligament & pin the joint in mid July.  It's October now & my thumb is still very stiff & swollen with only a little bending, in spite of physical therapy.  Up to this point, the majority of my time in physical therapy has focused on regaining the range of motion in the other fingers that seemed to not take well to the long period of time immobilized in casts & splints.  The doctor indicated that my thumb's recovery is behind schedule; have you regained adequate range of motion & how long did it take?

post #39 of 56

I have enjoyed all the comments and they are very helpful. For my two or three cents worth, I had a complete UCL tear about 5 weeks ago. I totally twisted my thumb and fingers. I had surgery to reattach the ligament. Here's my story: The initial injury hurt like the dickens! My whole hand was swollen and bruised, including the fingers and wrist. I had a very swollen hard lump at the base of my thumb, meaning I had a "stenar lesion". The ligament was lying beneath the muscle. I bought a thumb spica splint and had surgery after an MRI showed the rupture. I was placed in a cast for 10 days postop until the sutures were removed. The nurse assistant then stuffed my swollen thumb into a molded exos brace, which allowed me to remove it for showers. I was told I could move my fingers and start to move my thumb as long as I did not move the thumb away from my hand. I was also told to start massaging the hand. After 4 weeks, my scar has almost completely gone away. It has melted into the crease of my thumb. My thumb still swells and looks pretty ugly, but it's better. I hate the looks of my IP thumb joint (first joint) but I was told by the doctor that it is normal for the injury. The IP joint still hurts when I try to move it, but I am realizing that the joint was sprained as with my UCL injury. I go back to the doctor next week and I was told it will take another 4 weeks after that before I regain most of the thumb back. Therapy will be ordered, I am sure. Overall, it has been terrible not having a  thumb, but I have adapted to the two fingers. Some days my thumb hurts alot, other days not so much. My brace has loosened up and I cheated and putting bandaids on my thumb to prevent it from rubbing my skin raw. I now have started using sports tape and wrapping it around the thumb because not only was it causing my skin to rub off, but made it more swollen. Now that I started taping, my swelling has gone down. I have a bee-stinging and aches on my thumb and therapy will a challenge. Has anyone gone through the therapy?  

post #40 of 56

I had a complete tear of the UCL (skier's thumb) from a motorcycle incident. Surgery with screw to attach the ligament back together. After taking off the cast and rehab for several weeks - the redness wouldn't go away in my 'whole hand' - my hand surgeon said it was 'pain syndrome.' Due to the stiffness; swelling in my thumb and fingers - the next was to take Neurontin - Seizure Medication as my Dr. said it would calm the nerves. I took it for about 3-4 weeks and carefully weaned off with no results. Since then I have had 2 (of 3) Nerve Blocks (Stallate Gangleon) in my neck - which is a scary thing because of the 'side effects' - although, after the first one, I had a droopy eye; my voice was sporadic.  I have had steroid shots in my thumb and hand to relieve the ‘trauma – pain’ and also have a 3rd  nerve block (this is to be ‘the one’ that fixes all). Needless to say, it has been a horrible ordeal – although, I CAN use my thumb – with some fine motor skill issues.

I continue to do as my physician suggests in hopes 'something' will be the magic thing to fix my hand - it may never be normal....as it once was.

post #41 of 56
Yikes I just had same surgery five weeks ago. That frightens me. frown.gif
post #42 of 56
Yikes I just had same surgery five weeks ago. That frightens me. frown.gif
post #43 of 56

av8orx...How did things work out?  I am in a similar position.  did you get operated on or are you still going without?


Anyone sles have a similar experience?



post #44 of 56

hi all im damaged my left UCL and im in a cast for 4 weeks on my 3rd week atm and what can i expect when cast is removed i ride a motorbike and want to know can i ride a few days after cast is removed really wanna get back to skiing aswel, miss it so much

post #45 of 56

This is a very old thread, but I wanted to reply in case it could help anyone.

I had a complete Ulnar Collateral Tear - had surgery and my thumb was in a pin and hard cast for six weeks.

I have pain on and off, and still do.  Now I am doing physical therapy, thumb is very stiff and swollen.   

I am 8 weeks after surgery and the base of my thumb is very swollen, but I am able to hold cups, and use it. Hopefully it will get much better with time. But when it seems as it is healing, then it starts hurting again.  Had anyone had the same experience?

post #46 of 56

Yes, I also had chronic pain syndrome and they wanted to put me on cymbalta, but I never took it. Is not so much the pain but a burning sensation that I

have and still do. I am taking Krill Oil and Sam e seems to help, with no side effects.  

The therapy that I do also helps, I rub my skin with different textures to get the nerve used to touch again.

Good luck to you,  I hope your pain goes away soon :-(

post #47 of 56
You mean CRPS, formerly called RSD? Had that when I broke my wrists. Black hair even grew on my inner arm, nails got thick and ridgy.. Had two nerve blocks, useless. Cure was 18 months of OT and Neurontin, which was a magic bullet. Which is way cheaper than Cymbalta and you're still allowed to take your migraine medicine (me). Neurontin didn't cure me, but it allowed the CRAZY pain to subside so they could work on me. Contrast baths several times a day, massage and exercises three times a week. My OT pulled me back from the brink.

A little more on contrast baths. Immersing your arm in a pan of hot water for five minutes, then ice water, then hot water, then ice water, etc., for a half hour three times a day. Massages using Bio Freeze and a lubricating cream. Bio Freeze is an intense menthol type gel. I did the contrast baths at home on the days I didn't have OT. She also did those hot wax dunks.
Edited by sibhusky - 8/19/13 at 2:41pm
post #48 of 56

I am three weeks outside of surgery from a complete UCL tear. DONT HAVE THE SURGERY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


It hurts, afterwards, much worse than ever & burns like someone is holding a butane torch to it constantly......


id rather be thumbless than to have this kind of pain!

post #49 of 56
That's why I call it the CRAZY pain. It's out of all relationship to what it seems it ought to be. I call that my "lost summer".
post #50 of 56

I definitely lost my summer due to it. Does the burning ever stop?

post #51 of 56
I recovered. I had an excellent OT, who was extremely supportive and, even though she and I are at opposite extremes on many things (she's into pink energy), I did as told, went with it, and am a success story. In the broad scheme of things, the color of the witch's broom doesn't matter if her magic is good. :-D

If your therapist doesn't believe you, poo poos you, does not have a positive attitude and track record, get another. A PT I had for a knee injury told me that "nervous types" got CRPS/RSD. Right, that's why I grew black hair on the inside of my wrist. Because the pain was in my head. Bullshit.

My surgeon warned me that wrist and thumb injuries frequently had this happen and started me right away with the OT. So I owe him, too.

But recovery is a long journey. I'd recommend you NOT read up on this. I'm serious.
post #52 of 56
Two days ago I bent my hand backward while pushing up off the floor and felt a pop in my wrist. Shortly after I my thumb, wrist and hand started to swell and I experienced very sharp pain while trying to "stretch" my wrist backwards. I went to the ER, X-rays were done and came back negative for breaks or fractures. I was diagnosed with a "sprained thumb". I meet with my PCM tomorrow and should get referred for an MRI. I don't trust the ER and have doubts that I have an actual UCL tear. Did anyone have swelling in a ligament, looks like running to my index finger and down to the wrist? That's swollen pretty good still. I have pretty good movement in my thumb and my strength is less but can still use it ok. Could this be a less common partial year of the UCL? Any replies will help! Thanks!
post #53 of 56

Well first off I want to say thanks to all who are posting about this UCL injury and repair. 


My story is more chronic than most as I am a mom who is busy taking care of everyone else but myself :) 


Two years ago I had a fall and injured my left thumb pretty bad, but I figured it will get better on its own.  I would tape it and brace it to play baseball but ever catch would be painful.  The following season I took off thinking that would make everything better...nope!  Long story short, in 2 days I head in for surgery.  I opted for a plastic surgeon as the orthopedic surgeon in my area said she hadn't done many repairs of this sort.  I have a complete UCL tear and arthritis now in the joint.  We are hoping that harvesting a ligament from the inside of my wrist will do the trick.  Interestingly I was told that I will only have a cast for 4 days?  We will see!  Followed by 6 weeks in a splint and physio.  Hopefully not needing the joint to be fused?


I have not been able to hold a cup of coffee in that hand since the injury, let alone pick up a plate, empty the washing machine with that hand etc.  Don't NEED to play ball again but would love to get back to "normal" life.  Wish I would not have been so stubborn and had it looked at right away!


I was wondering what type of anesthesia you all had for this surgery?   When I had my shoulder done 10 years ago i had an axillary block and that worked really well. 

post #54 of 56

I broke my thumb and fully detached the ligament about 20 years back and had surgery. Yeah, for such a minor surgery, it does hurt like hell! :D  I just partially re-tore it mid December, OS put me in a removable semi-rigid cast so I could ski and use to extent possible.  Last check up he said it seemed to be partially attached so looks like I dodged a second surgery.  Working with the putty and mild stretching helped a bunch. Sibhusky is right about the PT, very important.  I only wear the brace now for skiing or anything that may catch the thumb. 


doesn't every skier get this at least once??? :D 



FWIW- if you don't reattach the ligament, you are most likely going to have issues as you age. I would seek out a hand specialist and not just let any OS do the surgery.  Anesthesia is going to be dependent on your OS and hospital protocol.  Discuss with the Dr.  

post #55 of 56
Originally Posted by Jeepsnskis View Post

Two days ago I bent my hand backward while pushing up off the floor and felt a pop in my wrist. Shortly after I my thumb, wrist and hand started to swell and I experienced very sharp pain while trying to "stretch" my wrist backwards. I went to the ER, X-rays were done and came back negative for breaks or fractures. I was diagnosed with a "sprained thumb". I meet with my PCM tomorrow and should get referred for an MRI. I don't trust the ER and have doubts that I have an actual UCL tear. Did anyone have swelling in a ligament, looks like running to my index finger and down to the wrist? That's swollen pretty good still. I have pretty good movement in my thumb and my strength is less but can still use it ok. Could this be a less common partial year of the UCL? Any replies will help! Thanks!


wrists have so many small bones and ligaments.  I would ask if having the MRI done with Contrast is a good idea. I would be surprised if the OS didn't ask for it (unless you live on the East coast)  

post #56 of 56

I damaged thumb ucl 3 years ago when a soccer ball hit it hard. Very painful and couldn't understand how everyone else playing was laughing!

Strapped it for a week or two and then tried to stretch it out as I thought may heal too tight - I thought this was the correct thing to do but thinking back I'm sure i made things a lot worse and deeply regret not looking up the injury online and just taping/splinting it for 6 weeks and not messing around with it myself.

Was aching for a couple of years but not badly - just got used to pushing, pinching, twisting with the other hand and was manageable. 

Got really bad when was decorating and holding the  paint tray with a pinch grip for a while and it got really uncomfortable and had to start taping again. Saw a hand surgeon and after moving the thumb away from the hand, and comparing with other hand, said i definitely needed surgery or would end up with arthritis in the joint. I signed up for the surgery but over the next few weeks it all settled (as stopped really using it for anything stressful) and by the time came to having the surgery i was very ambivalent about whether I wanted it done or not as hear so many stories of failed surgery and people having nerve pain subsequently. Even on the operating table I told the anaethetist I wanted to go home and forget the whole thing. I was really a terrible patient.

In the end I had it done under general anaesthetic and had to have a tendon removed from the arm and transplanted to the site of the UCL as the original UCL ligament was apparently very poor quality because i had waited so long after the injury. Plaster cast for four weeks. Now five weeks gone and have to wear a brace for further five weeks but is removable. Joint is enlarged and scar looks brutal. Joint is painful only when jars or when try to do anything with it - does not ache if not doing anything. Have numbness on top of the thumb up to the thumb nail but it does not feel burning or painful. Have been told to move the joints 3 times daily but a bit hesitant due to the fact I think I contributed to the original injury not healing by mucking about with it. Joint is stiff but I don't mind if stable. So far I'm not sure if did the right thing in having the surgery but time will tell...it was really 50:50 whether to get it done or not and just hope ends up better than was after a few months but I know no guarantees...

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