Skier’s Thumb: The world’s most common ski injury?

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Corinne taught me how to ski with an injured hand, and how to be nice to people when they offer stupid advice.

According to everyone I talked to during aprés ski hour on the patio yesterday, Skier’s Thumb is the world’s most common ski injury. Skier’s Thumb is when you fall onto your outstretched hand and forget to let go of your ski pole. It’s when you shake yourself off as your brother-in-law gathers your fallen equipment from the slope above you and you think to yourself, “Whoa. That hurt. But I’m okay. I think everything’s okay. No broken bones. Oh, but my thumb hurts like Hell,” and you shake it a few times Grease Lightning style, hoping no one sees those tears behind your goggle lenses. But then you take off your glove and realize that the thumb joint is unstable and you ask yourself, “Do I even use this thumb?” and for an hour you actually convince yourself that thumbs are totally overrated.

If Skier’s Thumb is the world’s most common ski injury then I guess I’m doing pretty good. I made it almost 40 years of skiing before I finally did it to myself. Last Friday, I was skiing Middle Ferk’s with John, Scott and my brother-in-law Steve, and I fell hard. But I’m a tough gal and I laughed it off–even after I noticed that I couldn’t touch my thumb to my forefinger without sending spikes of hot iron down my wrist into my arm. A little thumb jam wasn’t going to keep me from a day of skiing, even if I did have to just hold my right pole under my arm like a purse.

In fact I was reminded of skiing with my friend Corinne in Verbier. She was recovering from a broken hand and skiing without ski poles. I told her to just, “pretend like you had poles” and she kindly told me that my “sage” advice truly helped her. She’s a very kind person.

After an x-ray and an MRI and an exam from the world’s best hand surgeon, I’ve been diagnosed with a full ligament tear, aka skier’s thumb aka gamekeeper’s thumb. So tomorrow I have surgery and will be on pain meds for a few days, so I can’t entirely take responsibility for anything that I post between now and say Friday. I might not post anything, or it could be drunken ramblings or could even be poetic, semi-lucid truisms. Probably not, but you never know. One can always hope.

Fortunately I have the world’s best mom and she promised to come over and help me button my pants and dry my hair for the next few days. Not that my husband couldn’t do all that, but he doesn’t have much practice in hair drying, nor can he manage those tiny hair bungees to tie my locks back into a ponytail.

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18 responses »

  1. I can’t figure out how you fall on your thumb. You’ve got your hand out and you fall on…your thumb?
    What does the pole have to do with it? What is it called when you skewer yourself with the pole? Skiers rib?

  2. Good luck with surgery. Take time to recover, don’t rush it and let your mom take care of you. Hope all goes well and your thumb is happy and healthy soon.

  3. Thats sad!, My wife has been skiing with a splint all winter trying to avoid surgery. You looked like you were handling the bota ok though. Look forward to the posts. Get well soon

  4. I have hurt my thumb before (not as seriously as you), trying to dig my thumbs in to stop myself when I was sliding downhill on my stomach. PS it doesnt work very well!!

  5. Oh bummer! I had a similiar injury although no surgery, just a fracture down near the base of the thumb and was in a cast for 6 weeks. Unfortunately I’m right handed and it was on my right hand. Yup, skiing. Take care and hope you recuperate quickly.

      • These are GOOD news! To you for getting better and with less pain – I hit the 10 while in physical therapy after my ACL replacement surgery so I know well what you are taking about OUCH :-(
        And great news to us who follow you too, happy you are feeling better to write so we are be able to keep enjoying your awesome writing :-)
        XOXO

  6. Had a similar injury a few years ago. . . did it at the end of the season and skied a few more weeks with it injured. . .I did not have surgery and it took about two years for the pain to fully go away. My UCL joint however still appears to be swollen. Good luck with your recovery. Use your other hand to twist off caps.

  7. Pingback: Crying Like a Girl with a Skinned Knee: Why stoicism isn’t all its cracked up to be « Kim Kircher

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