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Gamekeeper’s Thumb

Gamekeeper’s thumb surgery: Dallas Hand Surgeons Dr. David and Solomon Azouz offer a definite solution for Gamekeeper’s thumb.

Dallas Plastic and Hand Surgeon Dr. David and Solomon Azouz review Gamekeeper’s thumb: symptoms, surgical and non-surgical treatment, cost, insurance, and recovery.

What is Gamekeeper’s thumb?

Gamekeeper’s thumb surgery is an effective solution to repair Gamekeeper’s thumb, which is a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament typically occurring during an injury that pulls on the thumb.  The ulnar collateral ligament is a band of tissue that supports the joint at the base of the thumb. The game’s keeper’s thumb is also known as the “skier’s thumb.” Damage to this ligament which can be acute or chronic, can lead to instability of the thumb and prohibit normal.

What are the benefits of Gamekeeper’s thumb surgery?

The ulnar collateral ligament keeps your thumb in a stable position and can limit movement of the thumb when damaged. This injury can often not heal itself and usually requires surgery.  Patients may require surgery to have optimal hand function.  

How do you know if you tore your UCL to your thumb?

Symptoms of Gamekeeper’s thumb include: 

  • Pain

  • Bruising 

  • Swelling 

  • Loss of strength at the base of the thumb with laxity of the thumb when pulling it from the hand

Who needs surgery for Gamekeeper’s thumb?

Dallas hand surgeon Dr. Azouz will determine the need for surgery with a history and physical examination.  Patients may also require an x-ray to determine the position of the bones, especially if there is an associated fracture.

How is Gamekeeper’s thumb treated? 

During surgery, Dr. Azouz will place pins, sutures or specialized suture anchors, to attach the ulnar collateral ligament back to the bone. He may need to repair any fractures if there are any present.

Is Gamekeeper’s thumb painful?  What is the Anesthesia for Gamekeeper’s thumb surgery?

Generally, injuries to the hand are painful, and Dr. Azouz strives to provide the best patient experience by minimizing a patient’s pain.  Dr. Azouz uses a variety of techniques to minimize pain with surgery.  Dr. Azouz performs hand surgery with an axillary block and sedation.  Patients are sedated for the surgery, meaning that they are in a deep sleep and most cases, do not remember the procedure.  Numbing medication is helpful in minimizing any pain for up to 24  hours after surgery.  


What are the risks for Gamekeeper thumb surgery? 

Surgical risks of Gamekeeper thumb surgery are similar to the risks of all hand surgery.  These include risks of: 

  • Bleeding 

  • Infection 

  • Stiffness

  • Arthritis

Dr. Azouz uses a variety of methods to minimize these risks.  This includes use of a tourniquet, specialized medications, minimally invasive technique and specialized sutures to minimize the risks of surgery.

Can Game’s keeper thumb surgery be combined with other surgery?

Gamekeeper’s thumb surgery can be combined with any cosmetic procedures, tumor removals, or fracture repairs. 

What are the long term outcomes of a successful gamekeeper’s thumb surgery?

Repair of the ulnar collateral ligament can help with stability of the thumb, grasping or pinching objects and restoring the function of the thumb and hand. 

How long does it take to recover from Gamekeeper thumb surgery?

Dr. Azouz places a specialized splint over the thumb to protect the ligament repair. Recovery is dependent on the severity of the injury.  Most patients will have their sutures removed within two weeks after surgery.  Patients will return to light duties at work within a few weeks after surgery.  Heavy lifting at work is generally reserved to begin at least six to eight weeks after surgery.  Hand therapy may be recommended to help regain full function and movement of the thumb.

If you have an injury to your thumb, call 972-702-8888 to book your appointment with Dr. Azouz in Dallas.  

Gamekeeper's thumb Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost of gamekeeper’s thumb surgery?

The cost of gamekeeper’s thumb surgery can vary according to the number of structures added and severity of the injury. If the injury is caused by an injury at work, most workers’ compensation carriers cover the cost of surgery.

What are the long term outcomes of a successful gamekeeper’s thumb surgery?

Repair of the ulnar collateral ligament can help with stability of the thumb, grasping or pinching objects and restoring the function of the thumb and hand.

What are the non-surgical treatment options for Gamekeeper’s thumb?

For minor Gamekeeper’s thumb, ice packs can be applied to help with any pain and swelling. A splint can be applied for 4-6 weeks to allow the ligament to heal, however in most cases, surgery is the best option for an improved outcome.

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