Q. I sprained my thumb. Can I skip a doctor visit?

Answered by
Dr. Atul Prakash
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Sep 29, 2014 and last reviewed on: Nov 13, 2018

Hi doctor,

I sprained my thumb last week. I still have some pain but grip, strength and movement are increasing. Can I skip a doctor visit? At first, my thumb was swollen and redness was present. I could not bend it at all. After using R.I.C.E, the swelling has decreased to near normal and it is much more flexible. There is still some pain on the index finger side of the joint when pressed, but grip strength is returning. I am now able to straighten the thumb without difficulty but I cannot fully close the thumb on itself. What should be my next course of action - more rest, work on stretching it out or consulting a specialist?



Welcome to

Your description of pain, the presence of swelling and redness and its site of maximum tenderness makes me worry about what is called the "gamekeepers thumb". This is the injury of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the thumb.

If that is the injury then you should ideally have yourself examined by a doctor to assess the degree of the injury of the ligament. Because a complete tear will require surgery. But from your description, the chances are remote as you have regained movements and the pain is also settling.

The main issue with the UCL injury is lack of or weakness in the pinch grip between the thumb and the index finger which can be quite troublesome for people who do heavy work with their hands.

Revert back to an orthopaedician online for further follow up -->

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