Dislocated Thumb Overview

Dislocated Thumb Overview

Imagine writing, playing, or typing your favorite sport without a thumb. Such a possibility is possible with a dislocated thumb. However, the potential challenges and complications are worth taking seriously. We'll explain everything you need to know about dislocated thumb injuries and the best treatment options.

What is a Dislocated Thumb?

A dislocated thumb is an injury in which one of the joints of your thumb gets pulled out of its natural position. It's important to get medical attention right away if you suspect that you have a dislocated thumb. Strained connective tissues and broken bones are among the most serious and difficult-to-treat hand injuries resulting from dislocations. So, you should seek medical attention immediately if you suspect the thumb gets dislocated.

Fortunately, finger injuries are rare unless you're an athlete or were involved in a high-impact accident. However, the middle joint of the fingers (including the thumb) is one of the most commonly dislocated joints. Three different joints in the thumb can be dislocated: a Dislocated Thumb IP Joint, a Dislocated Thumb MCP Joint, and a Dislocated CMC Joint pad.

Dislocated Thumb IP Joint

The IP joint is the thumb's most distal joint. This kind of thumb injury is rare compared to an MCP joint injury (see below). It's caused by excessive pressure on the end of the thumb—a dislocated IP joint is caused by a fall.

When the thumb IP joint is dislocated, it's usually due to a ruptured tendon, an avulsion fracture, or damage to the connective tissue stabilizing the joint. This injury requires immediate reduction and sometimes surgery to repair damaged tissues or remove bone fragments.

Dislocated Thumb MCP Joint

The metacarpophalangeal joint connects your palms to the ends of your fingers. This joint is also called the MCP or carpal-cubital joint (CCJ). The MCP joint is in the web space between your thumb and the first or second finger. Dislocated thumb with MCP joint injuries occur when excessive strain is placed with hyperextension or a fall. It is more common than thumb IP joint injuries. Recovery and treatment require stabilization and reduction of the joint with an appropriate brace to allow connective tissue healing.

Dislocated CMC Joint

The carpometacarpal (CMC) joint is located near the wrist and acts as a palm bridge. A dislocated CMC joint occurs when it is overextended, and high-impact forces are applied, resulting in injury. The injury often results from overextension when the pressure gets applied to the carpometacarpal joint. However, it is a rare injury that accounts for less than 1% of thumb injuries. Pain and Swelling may be present, and some severe cases need surgery.

Causes of Thumb Dislocations

A thumb dislocation is a common injury that can happen while playing basketball or other sports. It occurs when a player's knuckle is dislocated and hyperextended, damaging the stability of local tissues in the thumb. This makes it difficult to retain full mobility of the thumb or keep a normal position for daily activities.

Some people with rheumatoid arthritis experience a dislocated thumb because of local joint damage and instability. Thankfully, products like arthritis gloves can help ease pain and keep the hands moving more comfortably.

Dislocated Thumb Symptoms

What are the indications of a thumb dislocated, and what can you do to determine the best treatment? Here are the most common signs of a dislocated thumb that you should be aware of:

  • Sharp pain in one or more thumb joints
  • The thumb's range of motion is painful and restricted. of motion
  • The Swelling is severe, and the bruising is extensive.
  • Tenderness in the area around the injured region
  • Noticeable dorsal/palmar deformity
  • A feeling of numbness or discomfort when you move
  • Loss of Hand, finger, or grip strength.
  • Color changes

Dislocated Thumb Treatment

The treatment for a dislocated thumb depends on the severity of the injury. In most cases, a dislocated thumb can be treated with a splint or cast. The splint or cast will help to keep the thumb joint in alignment while it heals. Surgery may sometimes be necessary to repair the damaged ligaments or tendons.

Splint or cast

A splint or cast is a device used to immobilize a joint. It can be made of plaster, fiberglass, or other materials. A splint is typically used for short-term immobilization, while a cast is used for longer-term immobilization.

To apply a splint or cast to a dislocated thumb, the doctor will first realign the bones of the thumb joint. Then, they will apply the splint or cast to the thumb and wrist. The duration of wearing a splint or cast depends on the severity of the injury and can last for several weeks..


Surgery is usually only necessary in severe cases of a dislocated thumb, such as when significant damage to the ligaments or tendons occurs. During surgery, the doctor will repair the damaged ligaments or tendons and may also need to realign the bones of the thumb joint.

After surgery, the doctor will apply a splint or cast to the thumb and wrist. The splint or cast will need to be worn for several weeks, depending on the severity of the injury.

Other treatments

In addition to splinting, casting, and surgery, there are a few other treatments that may be used for a dislocated thumb, such as:

    Pain medication:

    Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can reduce pain and inflammation.

    Cold therapy:

    Applying a Cold pack to the thumb joint can help reduce pain and Swelling. Ice should be applied for 20 minutes several times a day.

    Our Top Pick
    Double sided hot and cold therapy pad

      SACKSY THYME Cold Therapy Pack for dislocated thumb:

      The Sacksy Thyme Cold Therapy Pack is perfect for treating a dislocated thumb because it is smaller in size and easier to maneuver than a larger ice pack. It is also designed to fit comfortably around your thumb, which means you can continue your daily activities while wearing it. The pack is made with a soft, plush material that conforms to the shape of your thumb and provides a comfortable fit.



      Elevating the thumb above the heart's level can help reduce Swelling.

      Diagnosing a Dislocated Thumb Joint

      You must seek out medical help as quickly as you can, mainly when bones are not in place, to immediately reduce or eliminate the injury. Your doctor will prescribe a local anesthetic before resetting the joint if necessary.

      General practitioners may need an X-ray for a dislocated thumb to determine the extent of the injury and the possibility of fractures. In addition, understanding what a dislocated thumb appears like can help determine the best treatment medications.

      It is possible to order blood tests to determine if there's a possibility of infection linked to the dislocated joint. The doctor can also request imaging of the dislocated thumb, for instance, an MRI, to provide further information and examine damage to connective tissue (particularly local ligaments and the volar plate, which gives the thumb stability).

      Preventing a Dislocated Thumb

      There are a few things you can do to prevent a dislocated thumb, such as:

      • Wear protective gear when participating in sports or activities that put your thumbs at risk. This includes wearing gloves when playing baseball, basketball, or volleyball and wearing wrist guards when rollerblading or skateboarding.
      • Be careful when using tools or equipment that could hit your thumbs. When using a hammer, hold the nail securely with a nail holder. When using a saw, keep your fingers away from the blade.
      • Avoid overuse. If you experience pain in your thumbs, stop the activity and rest. Continuing the activity could increase your risk of dislocating your thumb.

      Here are some additional tips for preventing a dislocated thumb:

      • Warm up before participating in sports or activities that put your thumbs at risk. This will help to prepare your muscles and ligaments for activity.
      • Stretch your thumbs regularly. This will help to improve flexibility and reduce your risk of injury.
      • Avoid falls. Be careful when walking on slippery surfaces and getting in and out of bathtubs and showers.
      • Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts additional stress on your joints, including your thumb joints.

      If you have any medical conditions that weaken your ligaments or tendons, such as arthritis or diabetes, it is especially important to take precautions to prevent a dislocated thumb.

      If you experience any pain or Swelling in your thumb, it is important to see a doctor immediately to get a diagnosis and treatment plan. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent further complications.

      Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about preventing a dislocated thumb.

      A Word From Sacksythyme

      Although thumb injuries cannot always be avoided, knowing the best thing to do for a broken thumb can make the healing process much more manageable. Most importantly, the injured joint's integrity must be maintained as damaged tissues heal. 

      It is usually done through Cold therapy packs, massage, braces, splints, or tapes to manage Swelling and pain and then exercise to improve hand flexibility and strength. Keep in mind that patience and proper medical advice are essential. However, if you follow the proper and appropriate treatment, healthy hands are around the corner despite a finger injury.

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