Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ


Last winter I fell on the ice and landed on my hand. I think I may have jammed my thumb. At the time I seemed to be okay but ever since I've been unable to open a jar lid or turn the door handle. Sometimes I can't even hold onto a pen. What's going on anyway?


Chronic pain and difficulty with these types of activities suggests a serious injury, perhaps a bone fracture or a torn ligament.

Patients with a torn radial collateral ligament (RCL) often describe exactly these symptoms. They also describe trauma or an injury caused by compression through the tip of the thumb. The weight of your body and force of the injury hyperextends the thumb joint tearing the ligament at the base of the thumb.

An orthopedic surgeon or hand specialist will need to make the diagnosis. History and examination are often all that's needed. An X-ray may be taken to rule out a fracture.

Louis W. Catalano III, MD, et al. Results of Surgical Treatment of Acute and Chronic Grade II Tears of the Radial Collateral Ligament of the Thumb Metacarpophalangeal Joint. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. January 2006. Vol. 31A. No. 1. Pp. 68-75.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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