Dr. Mark E. Pruzansky
Dr. Jason S. Pruzansky
975 Park Avenue New York, NY 10028

Broken Thumb Treatments

A broken thumb, while common, can be a painful and inconvenient injury. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatments for a broken thumb can help you manage this condition effectively.

Introduction to Broken Thumb: Causes and Symptoms

A broken thumb, medically known as a thumb fracture, often results from a direct blow, a fall, or an accident. Symptoms typically include severe pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty in moving the thumb. In some cases, the thumb may appear deformed.

Understanding the Anatomy of the Thumb

The thumb, unlike other fingers, has two phalanges and a unique joint, the saddle joint, where the metacarpal joins the wrist. This joint allows the thumb to move in multiple directions, making it flexible but also susceptible to injuries, including fractures.

Diagnosis of a Broken Thumb: X-rays and Other Tests

Drs. Pruzansky emphasizes the importance of seeking medical attention immediately if a broken thumb is suspected. In his practice, X-rays are often used to confirm the fracture. In more complex cases, a CT scan or MRI may be necessary to assess the extent of the injury.

Non-Surgical Treatments for a Broken Thumb

The treatment for a broken thumb depends on the severity and type of fracture. Drs. Pruzansky often recommends non-surgical treatments as the first line of defense.

Immobilization: Casts and Splints

Immobilizing the thumb helps the bone heal by keeping it in a fixed position. Depending on the fracture’s location and severity, Drs. Pruzansky may use a splint or cast. Typically, patients wear this for several weeks.

Pain Management: Medications and Home Remedies

Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage discomfort. Additionally, applying ice to the area can reduce swelling. Drs. Pruzansky advises patients to always wrap the ice in a cloth to protect their skin and use it for under 10 minutes.

Surgical Treatments for a Broken Thumb

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat a broken thumb, especially if the fracture is severe or involves the joint and ligaments.

When is Surgery Necessary?

Surgery is typically required if the bone fragments are displaced or if the fracture has damaged the thumb joints. The goal is to realign the bone fragments and restore the thumb’s function.

Types of Surgery for Thumb Fractures

Drs. Pruzansky offers several surgical options for a broken thumb. These include closed reduction, where they manually align the bone fragments, and open reduction, which involves surgical intervention. In some cases, pins, screws, or plates may be used to hold the bone fragments together.

  1. Closed Reduction and Immobilization: This is often the first line of treatment for many fractures. With this procedure, Drs. Pruzansky manually realigns the broken bone without making an incision. After the bones are back in place, a splint or cast is used to hold the thumb steady while it heals.
  2. Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF): In this procedure, Drs. Pruzansky makes an incision and realigns the broken bones. Hardware like screws, pins, or plates are used to hold the bones in place while they heal. In some cases this can be done percutaneously under x-ray guidance to almost eliminate cutting.
  3. External Fixation: In more severe cases, Drs. Pruzansky may use an external fixator, which is a metal frame attached to the bone with pins. This frame holds the broken bones in place until they heal.
  4. Bone Graft: If the fracture has led to bone loss, a bone graft may be necessary. Drs. Pruzansky takes a piece of bone usually from the wrist (or uses a special bone graft material) and places it where the bone is missing to help the thumb heal.
  5. Joint Fusion (Arthrodesis): If the fracture involves the joint and leads to instability or arthritis, the surgeon may recommend fusing the joint. This procedure involves joining two bones together so they become one solid bone, which can provide pain relief but also limits movement.

Rehabilitation and Occupational Therapy for a Broken Thumb

After the initial healing phase, occupational therapy is crucial to restore strength and mobility to the thumb. Drs. Pruzansky works closely with therapists who guide patients through exercises designed to improve range of motion and reduce stiffness.

Tips for Faster Recovery from a Broken Thumb

To speed up recovery, Drs. Pruzansky advises patients to follow their surgeon’s instructions carefully. Keep the cast or splint dry, elevate the hand to reduce swelling, and take pain medication as directed. It’s also important to start physical therapy as soon as it’s recommended.

Prevention: How to Avoid Thumb Injuries

While it’s impossible to prevent all accidents, Drs. Pruzansky suggests that you can reduce your risk of a thumb fracture. Use protective gear when recommended in particular sports, be mindful of slippery uneven surfaces, and exercise regularly to maintain strong, healthy bones, and ligaments.

In conclusion, a broken thumb requires prompt medical attention and appropriate treatment. With the right care, most people can expect a full recovery. If you suspect a thumb fracture, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

As hand surgeons with decades of experience, Drs. Pruzansky assures that timely intervention and proper care can significantly improve your recovery process. Visit Hand Surgeons NYC for expert care and treatment.