May 4th, 2012

Health N' Sports: Gamekeeper's Thumb

Staff Report

Health N' Sports: Gamekeeper's Thumb
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Louisville Orthopaedic shares insight on thumb injury

As a part of the Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic, the Sports Rehab Team physical therapists are knowledgeable and trained in the latest advancements and techniques available in sports rehabilitation.

On a weekly basis, the Health N’ Sports Update will give information on prevention, recovery, and include special offers, as well as general health tips that would be beneficial to all. If there is a specific topic you’d like to know or hear more about, email future suggestions to

Gamekeeper’s Thumb is an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the thumb. The UCL is torn at the proximal phalanx (base of the thumb) or in some cases, is avulsed from its insertion site. The mechanism of injury is typically falling on our outstretched hand where the thumb is stretched away from the palm. The injury also presents itself in soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball, and baseball. Players can suffer this injury when the ball is deflected off the tip of the thumb.


  • Pain at the base of the thumb
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Limitation in range of motion (ROM)

Treatment: X-Rays may be necessary to rule out avulsion fracture. If there is an avulsion fracture present, immobilization in a splint or cast is necessary for healing. If the X-Ray is negative, ice the injury and take anti-inflammatories such as Advil or Aleve to decrease pain and swelling. Taping by your athletic trainer or physical therapist can stabilize the joint allowing return to play, but with limitations. A player with limitations can get by fairly well by using the “non-skilled” position but, the player will have more limitations where catching or setting a ball is necessary. Physical therapy is always helpful with shortening the recovery time.

Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic

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  • Physical Therapy: 502-897-1790
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