How to treat a sprained thumb

Updated February 21, 2017

Thumbs and finger sprains are fairly common injuries. Sprains can occur as the result of sports activities or just from everyday use and overextension. It's important to know how to treat any sprain so that it heals properly.

Rest the thumb for at least 48 hours. A sprain occurs when a muscle stretches and tears, so the thumb muscles need time to heal. Lifting heavy objects or bending your thumb could aggravate the sprain.

Apply an ice pack immediately after the injury. Ice your thumb for 20 minutes, take the ice pack off for 20 minutes, then reapply. Continue this cold therapy regimen for the first 48 hours of the injury. Ice pack therapy lowers the temperature at the injury site and reduces swelling.

Wear a wrap or brace on your sprained thumb. Apply compression around the injured muscles to stabilize and immobilize the thumb. This will heal the sprain by limiting movement and reducing fluid buildup. A wrap bandage is usually sufficient for a sprained thumb, but if your sprain is severe, your doctor might recommend a spica splint, which immobilizes the thumb completely.

Elevate the thumb. This will reduce painful swelling by allowing any fluid to drain away from the injury.

Take an anti-inflammatory pain reliever. Ibuprofen or naproxen will reduce the swelling and inflammation and help the muscles to heal faster.

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