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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    SE Asian jungle in the Armpit of America
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    Really bad skier's thumb = surgery?

    So, about 7 or 8 years ago I wrecked pretty good in Crested Butte and busted up my thumb. Seeing as it was spring break and I wanted to keep skiing I wrapped my black and blue and possibly broken right thumb in tape and shoved it into a mitten so I could keep skiing.

    Over the years it has gotten worse and worse. In the last few days it has gotten REALLY bad after I played drums for like 15 minutes.

    It looks more "dislocated" than it usually does. (Visually my thumbs have not looked the same since my initial injury....its always looks dislocated and the basal joint sticks way out sometimes and sometimes it looks to be in place a little more.)

    Now I am wearing a spica splint I got at Walgreens. My whole arm hurts now, I can barely move/use my thumb and the tendons in the web part between my thumb and hand hurt alot.

    How fucked am I? My hands are my tools for work and I can't see how I could ever take time off to get surgery and rehab it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    316
    Taking time off for rehab has to be the lesser of two evils in your situation. Face it, your thumb will not heal on it's own if it hasn't healed much at all in 7-8 years. It's probably worthless now as far as work goes, so how will taking time off for healing be any worse?

    I'm on my 15th broken thumb now, but luckily they haven't been as bad as yours and heal up within 3-4 months each time. This time, for me, my thumb is worse and is not healing as usual...so I have to make some similar decisions regarding surgery. Having a wrecked thumb makes it hard to hold onto handlebars, shift gears, paddle a kayak, play golf, button your shirt, zip a ziplock, hold a beer, etc...get it fixed.
    Last edited by Flaskman; 10-15-2010 at 09:25 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    SE Asian jungle in the Armpit of America
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    Doc thinks I may have a ruptured UCL. He already has a surgeon in mind. 1.5 hour MRI on Monday. Sweet.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    ask the midget
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    2,778
    I had to have my UCL done a few years back. Completely snapped it. It was pretty obvious though since I no longer could use it to hold anything, a piece of paper would slie out - I just couldn't apply force.

    The surgery is quick - pretty painful unfortunately, mainly because they are doing so much to a small area I think.

    Make sure to stick to rehab. The biggest part of rehab was getting the tendon to loosen again so you could make a fist.

    I am at 100% use of the thumb now, but years later I still can't fully close my fist totally, and gripping things like weights, bike handles, moto-handles etc cause pain.

    good luck man.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    3,101
    had ucl surgery, my thumb is stronger than the other. Surgery was not painful at all for me. I passed out when they took the short cast off after 3 weeks. I tried to move my thumb but could not. Really flipped me out.

    I skied the day after surgery, with one pole.

    Get the surgery it is easy.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    SE Asian jungle in the Armpit of America
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    What was your recovery time like? ie how long till I can work again? I do contractor stuff/home remodeling.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    3,101
    It depends. if you have waited this long, they might have to reach up into your arm to pull the tendon down( they might not have to do that).
    But i was pretty funcitonal the next day. I have my thumb in a cast that went up to my wrist and that was it.

    After three weeks they put a soft cast on.
    It took 2-4 weeks to get full mobility back into my thumb.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Aspen, Colorado
    Posts
    2,182
    I had thumb surgery in 1985, a year after I tore the ligament. I had a floppy thumb for that year, because I did not want to take time out for surgery. It was impossible to hold a glass in that hand, as the thumb would fold out of the way if any pressure was exerted on it. Since I waited so long, the doc had to take a graft from a wrist tendon. I healed up fine, but I am very aware of how I put my hands down on the snow. Now I push off my nkuckles instead of putting the heal of my hand towards the snow.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wilson, Wyo.
    Posts
    4,001
    sorry to hear about your injury. i had surgery on my UCL a number of years ago. the injury was initially sustained in september; i decided to go for surgery in october. i was back to skiing and playing hockey full-force by january 1st but was feeling pretty good in mid-december.

    rehab was done completely on my own and wasn't a particularly big deal as far as time was concered. what was hard was breaking up the scar tissue and knowing i had to inflict that pain (and it was a great deal) on myself.

    i had an experimental surgery where the ligament was reattached to a pin in a way that would provide greater strength. sure enough, my grip strength was equal or better (for climbing) after i fully recovered. i get some pain at the pin years later, but it's minor.

    you're in the bay area now? go see dr michael kulick. used to be on post street in sf.

    good luck!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    316
    Well, how'd that MRI work out for you?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    SE Asian jungle in the Armpit of America
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    10,260
    MRI was OK I guess. My surgeon seemed sort of perplexed despite doing hand surgery for 25 years. He couldn't believe I hadn't recently smashed my thumb cause he said a bunch of words I didn't understand and said something about a fracture and that I need to see the current chair of surgery.

    That dude doesn't take my insurance so I am seeing Dr. Kulick on wednesday.

    My hand is fucking wrecked right now.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    SE Asian jungle in the Armpit of America
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    Kulick is pinning my thumb back together next month. No skiing until Feb or March. Guess I picked a good time to move to CA and try to work with my hands full-time.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    316
    So it was more of a bone issue rather than a tendon/ligament issue? That seems strange.

    I didn't learn to snowboard because of my thumbs, but one of the benefits of snowboarding is that the thumb really isn't under such a threat as it is when you are holding poles. You could still guard the white room.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    SE Asian jungle in the Armpit of America
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    I rarely ever ski with poles anyway.


    Kulick is taking a ligament out of my wrist and then using it to replace my UCL in my thumb.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Aspen, Colorado
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    2,182
    That is the same surgery I had after I waited too long to go under the knife.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Bozeman America
    Posts
    37
    I have contemplated surgery as well. I did the "skier's thumb" twice on the same thumb about 12+ years ago, then again about 7 years ago. Each time I spent some time with a thumb brace on.

    I never opted for surgery but I still have decent use of the thumb. It is much weaker than the good one, though. One of the hardest things to do is pick up a pair of skis vertically. I also have trouble using the thumb shifter on my mtn. bike. I would like to get surgery some day, but if you rock the brace for a while you should get a decent amount of function back.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    94
    Same surgery for me Nov 22nd... tendon graft from the wrist, cast for 6 weeks, etc.
    I bought a pair of mittens large enough to fit over my cast at the local ski swap today. The plan is to peel my skins with one hand.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    south lake tahoe
    Posts
    270
    I have had both thumbs fixed, one was similar to your story, years after the injury, no ligaments left. They took the tendon out of the underside of my forearm. It is great now. Start learning to wipe your ass with the other hand!! I was snowboarding in a cast soon after, couldn't ski, but it hurts when ya whack it on somthing, especially if you have pins that immobilze it. Heal fast!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    SE Asian jungle in the Armpit of America
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    5 days out. shit sucks. gonna run out of pain meds soon. homegrown is helping alot though.

    do i really have to do nothing at all for a full week? like a stubborn ass i have been working a bit. just bending over to pick something up with my good/left hand causes my right/bad/casted hand and forearm to hurt. am i pushing myself too hard?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    California
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    316
    Well? I'm interested in your progress...you back to 100% yet?

  21. #21
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    SE Asian jungle in the Armpit of America
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    10,260
    Just had the pin taken out on 1/21. Looked like a finish nail lol. Get the stitches out on 1/31. Then re-hab.

    Fuck this is taking forever, no?

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    316
    Well, I'm sure it seems like forever to you, but you gotta keep focused on the final result and look forward to having full use of both your hands again...it's been a while for that, eh?

    My thumb ended up healing pretty well on it's own, though it's still half again as big as the other one and has a weird lump on one side. It seems to work though and gives me no pain.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    3
    My surgery was 1/20 and i still cant use thumb, i am a dog groomer (ex skiier,windsurfer now)..mine was from equipment overload from grooming tools!..now i cant even work!! sorry i ever did it!!

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    uTardedland
    Posts
    11,184
    L UCL snapped completely. Surgery was Friday, pin out next Tuesday.

    Pain was NOTHING compared to an ACL. Was out 2 days, but only needed one really.

    Need second cast then rehab. Not bad at all really.
    "boobs just make the world better really" - Woodsy

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    2,816
    I have a bad issue with the middle knuckle on one thumb. I don't remember ever hurting it, but for over two years, it has been slightly swollen, slightly stiff, and hurts to grip things like a guitar pick or to shift on my bike. Anybody ever have that? It sucks. After holding a guitar pick for awhile, it painfully "cracks" loudly when I bend it again. Is that bad? I got a cotisone shot once, it helped a little but then got bad again. They said it wasn't arthritis. That was over a year ago. I'm afraid I might be degenerating it by not fixing the problem. Anybody ever develope a problem like this with the middle knuckle?
    "The skis just popped me up out of the snow and I went screaming down the hill on a high better than any heroin junkie." She Ra

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