Broken Thumb: Treatment, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Causes

Broken Thumb Overview

A broken thumb can lead to reduced mobility or increase the chance of developing arthritis further down the line. You may qualify for free medical care and other therapies in your area which could help speed up your broken thumb recovery.

Broken thumb

Broken thumb

Although a broken thumb is not typically viewed as a major injury, nevertheless it can be a painful experience that limits your ability to carry out daily chores and everyday tasks.

Your thumb can be fractured in different places whether it is your distal phalange, or the proximal phalange that is negatively impacted. Fractures to either of these bones can be very painful and require treatment from a physiotherapist to recovery fully from your injury.

In this guide, we cover different injuries to the thumb, from sprains to minor and more severe fractures. The guide provides information on broken thumb symptoms and how to spot whether you suffered a fracture, a bruised thumb nail or knuckle.

To find out more information on broken thumb injuries and whether you would qualify for any free treatment, free physiotherapy and free medical aids that could help speed up your recovery, please click on the Select a Section below.

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What is the Definition of a Broken Thumb?

There are two bones within the thumb and a break can occur at the first bone, called the distal phalange, or the second called the proximal phalange.

The distal phalange extends down the thumb from the tip to the knuckle. The proximal phalange is lower down, running from the knuckle to the base of the thumb. Between the thumb and first finger is an area of webbing, and the thumb is adjoined to the hand via a bone called the first metacarpal. The metacarpal shaft, which is the long portion of the bone, is also susceptible to fractures.

The most serious fractures to the thumb occur near the joints, especially when the injury is located close to the base of the thumb just above the wrist. Treatment of a broken thumb can vary, depending on the type and severity of the injury. For example Bennett and Rolando fractures, which occur at the base of the thumb involving the joint between the metacarpal and wrist bone, can be more complex and may have a lower chance of successful treatment. Fractures involving joints are usually more difficult to treat.

If you suspect you have suffered a broken thumb and would like to know whether you would be entitled to receive free private medical care for your injury, please call one of our health experts today. We can let you know straight away what treatments are available and whether you would be eligible to receive them.

What are the Most Common Causes of a Broken Thumb?

Often a broken thumb occurs through direct stress, for instance when carrying out extreme activities, falling onto an outstretched hand or simply catching a ball. If the thumb is pulled back accidentally, this can also produce serious thumb injuries or a fracture.

An indirect thumb injury can also occur. This is could be the result of sporting activities such as wrestling, hockey or football, where twisting or muscle contractions are common. To determine the severity an injury, a broken thumb x-ray may be required.

A broken thumb is more commonly found in the following sports:

  • Skiing
  • Hockey
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Football
  • Baseball
  • Wrestling

Where there is an existing history of bone disease or are calcium deficiency, this too can increase the risk of injury to the thumb. People at risk of suffering a broken thumb can protect vulnerable metacarpal bones using protective padding, gloves, tape and other specialist gear designed specifically for sports. Good nutrition will also help to prevent thumb fractures, protecting thumb joints and the skeletal structure of the hand.

If you suffered a serious injury to your thumb in an accident or incident and you are unhappy with an NHS broken thumb diagnosis, you may be entitled to receive a free orthopaedic assessment of your broken bone report. This report would have been done when you were first treated at an NHS hospital and you have every right to ask for a copy of it to keep for your own records. To find out whether you qualify for the assessment, please contact one of our health experts today.

What are the Symptoms of a Broken Thumb?

Broken thumb symptoms can be similar to those caused by a sprained or bruised thumb. The difference is that a sprained thumb usually involves damage to the ligament whereas if the thumb is fractured there is damage to the bone, i.e. the metacarpal or phalangeal bone structures.

Broken thumb symptoms can include tenderness, swelling and numbness. It will most likely be very painful and the thumb may appear deformed.

Some of the most common symptoms include the following:

  • Swelling around the fracture site
  • Severe pain around the thumb
  • Thumb looks misshapen or deformed
  • Limited or no mobility in the thumb
  • Numbness or coldness around affected area
  • Extreme tenderness

If you are unhappy with your broken thumb nhs diagnosis and/or treatment, you could find that you are eligible for free medical care in a private health facility that is local to you. You may also be entitled to a free orthopaedic assessment of your broken bone report, a copy of which you are entitled to receive when first being diagnosed at an NHS hospital.

How is a Broken Thumb Diagnosed?

If a thumb injury has occurred or a fracture is suspected, a doctor should be consulted immediately. It is important to establish whether you sustained a sprained or broken thumb as soon as possible. To delay treatment could result in a poor outcome as it may be more difficult to re-align the bones properly and it could slow down your broken thumb recovery considerably.

To prevent further misalignment of the bone, a padded splint can be used. This should be applied prior to a treatment plan being finalised. Treatment for a thumb fracture will be decided after examination by a physician, who will obtain a medical history and follow up with x-rays of your injury. The sort of imaging tests a doctor would want to carry out could include the following:

  • A series of x-rays – broken thumb images provided through x-rays would determine the extent of the damage and which bones and joints have been negatively impacted
  • CT scan – this would show up any soft tissue damage that may have occurred

If you are unhappy with a broken thumb NHS diagnosis and would like to know if you would be entitled to a free orthopaedic assessment of your NHS broken bone report, please call one of our health experts today who would tell you within minutes if this is so.

How is a Broken Thumb Treated?

Your broken thumb treatment would depend on the complexity and severity of your injury and what showed up on your broken thumb x ray. A minor fracture is often easier to treat than a more complex injury such as a broken thumb metacarpal. When it comes to using a broken thumb splint or cast, non-surgical treatment options could include the following:

  • There may be a non-surgical route to treating a fractured thumb, in the form of a spica cast. This special cast is designed to hold the fragments of bone in place. This option is only viable if fragmented bones have not been displaced too much, or if the break has occurred to the middle (shaft) of the bone in the thumb
  • The spica cast is usually in place for at least 4 to 6 weeks. Further x-rays of the broken thumb may be required to ensure that the splint is successfully keeping the bone in alignment

Broken thumb surgery options

  • In certain instances, dependant of the location of the fracture and whether there is movement of the broken bone fragments, surgery may be the best option for treating the injury

Several surgical techniques can be used to re-align the bone fragments. A surgeon will determine the best option. The end goal of your broken thumb surgery is to hold the fragments in place and make sure they remain in the correct position during the healing process. Techniques include holding the bone fragments in place using internal or external fixations.

  • To treat the thumb fracture internally, a technique may be employed using wire, pins, plates and screws that are made out of titanium
  • For external treatment, pins may be placed inside the bone and secured via an external fixation device

Following your broken thumb surgery, a cast or splint must be worn over the broken thumb for between 2 to 6 weeks. The hand may require further rehabilitation in the form of therapy to help restore movement. To regain full use of the hand it can take 3 months or more, depending on the severity of the fracture.

If you are not happy with your broken thumb NHS treatment and would like to know whether you would be entitled to any free medical care, free physiotherapy aftercare and rehabilitation as well as free medical supplies all of which could help speed up your broken thumb recovery, please do not hesitate in contacting one of our health experts today.

Could I Qualify for Any Other Free Treatment?

It is a little-known fact that free private medical treatment may be available for people who suffer a broken thumb. Many residents of the UK may be unaware that they qualify for additional treatment independent of the NHS which are available for UK residents.

Find out more about these treatments and your eligibility by calling our team today. Our friendly and professional team of health experts can guide you through a range of treatments that are available for free, from simple to advanced treatment options designed to aid your quick and safe recovery.

Is There Any Free Treatment for a Broken Thumb?

Broken thumb treatment

Broken thumb treatment

People in the UK suffering from a broken thumb may be eligible to claim free private medical treatment. This includes a wide range of support, such as a free sling, medical compress, and access to physiotherapy aftercare in a health facility that is local to you.

To find out more about how to claim free private medical treatment and other therapies in your area, please contact on of our health experts today. We can let you know straight away what type of treatments and therapies are available and whether you would be entitled to receive them.

Are There Any Complications Associated with a Broken Thumb?

A few complications may be associated with a broken thumb. The injury may extend to the blood vessels or include nerve damage. In the most severe circumstances, for displaced bones, surgery may be needed to repair the damage. To give your injured thumb time to heal correctly, it will normally be immobilised, as any additional strain on the fracture could exacerbate the injury or complicate future treatment making your broken thumb recovery more challenging.

One of the most common complications of a broken thumb is arthritis, which can be revealed when carrying out more x-rays further down the line. The condition can be painful and typically develops in your thumb joint following a fracture that negatively impacted the cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

In a study of Bennett fractures, people who received non-surgical treatment displayed a high incidence of degeneration of their thumb joints, and ongoing motion problems 26 years post receiving the injury to a thumb. As a consequence, there was a greater uptake of surgical treatment for this type of thumb injury. As yet there is no data relating to the long-term outcome for those who underwent surgery for a Bennett fracture.

If you think that a doctor made a mistake which could lead to you developing a complication, you could find that you are entitled to a second opinion from a doctor who works in the private sector. Many people throughout the UK do not know they could be entitled to free private medical care and this includes for a broken thumb. To find out more, please call our team of health experts today.

I Think My Doctor Missed Something When Diagnosing My Broken Thumb?

Are you concerned about the diagnosis you received from your GP? If you are worried that your doctor may have missed something, or you have concerns about your broken thumb, we encourage you to undertake research about the injury for your own peace of mind. Follow the links at the bottom of this page for advice on fractured thumbs and treatment options.

How Long Does a Broken Thumb Take to Heal?

When it comes to a broken thumb healing time a hand injury such as a this is usually set in a cast for anything up to six weeks. With a broken thumb child injury where their bones are still forming and developing, it may not be necessary for them to wear a splint for that length of time. It is important to follow the instructions of your doctor.

Following surgery, you will be advised to wear the broken thumb cast or splint for between 2 to 6 weeks. Any pins that were inserted will be removed after the required amount of time. Patients are usually prescribed an additional course of physical therapy to help strengthen the thumb muscles following the injury. It is worth noting that it can take more than three months to recover fully from a serious injury such as a thumb fracture or break.

If you are unhappy with the progress of your broken thumb recovery and think it is taking far too long, you may be entitled to free private medical care and physiotherapy aftercare at a health facility that is local to where you live. To find out more information, please call one of our health experts today. We can let you know straight away what therapies and treatment are available in your area and whether you would qualify to receive them,

Can I Speed Up a Broken Thumb Safely?

One of the best modes of recovery following a fracture thumb injury, whether it is a hairline fracture or a metacarpal fracture, is physiotherapy. A physiotherapist can be invaluable for people recovering from thumb injuries as they can take preventative action against deterioration of motion in the long term.

Receiving a tailored physio programme that meets your specific needs could help speed up your broken thumb recovery. If you live in the UK, you may be eligible to receive free physiotherapy treatment. To find out more information, contact our friendly team for an informal discussion about your injury.

Are There Any Long-Term Health Issues Associated with a Broken Thumb?

A broken thumb will usually heal well as long as care is taken to keep the bones stable during recovery. In some instances, you may develop infection or tenderness around the injury if treatment involved external surgery or if you had to undergo any sort of broken thumb surgery.

Injuries to the thumb, in common with other joint injuries, may lead to an increased risk of developing arthritis in the long term. This may result in limited movement or reduced strength in the joints. One way to assist in restoring strength and motion to the hand is to soak it in warm water. While the hand is immersed, gently exercise the thumb joints using circular motions and by squeezing the little finger towards the thumb. It can be helpful to use a tool such as a spring-loaded hand squeezer.

If you are worried about any long-term health issues associated with a broken thumb and would like more advice on this type of hand injury, the links at the bottom of the page provide essential reading on this type of hand injury.

Contact Us Today and See Whether You Qualify for Free Private Treatment

Across the UK, people are unaware that free private medical treatment may be available for broken thumbs as well as many other injuries. Find out if you could be eligible for any of the many types of treatment and therapies available free of charge in your area by calling one of our health experts today.

These additional treatments are available not just for thumb injuries but also for a range of other injuries and include simple to advanced care to provide extra support in your recovery. You could qualify for one or more free private medical treatments. Find out in less than 30 seconds by giving our friendly team a call today.

Links Providing Useful Information on Broken Thumb Injuries

To find out more about finger injuries including broken thumbs, the common symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options for this type of hand injury, the following link takes to you to an NHS website that provides essential reading:

More about finger injuries

If you need to undergo surgery on your hand because you sustained a serious broken thumb and would like more information on the procedures that are used, the following link takes you to the British Hand Surgery Society website which provides essential reading on the topic:

More about hand surgeries