Question:I'm a beach volleyball player. I fell two weeks ago and tore the ulnar collateral ligament of my left hand. Even though the fall was on the sand, the way I landed caused an avulsion fracture. I've had surgery and my thumb and lower arm are in a cast. How long before I can get back to volleyball?
Answer:Your postoperative course may depend on the type of surgery you had. Your recovery time is shorter if the surgeon was able to repair the injury arthroscopically. Healing time for an open incision operation is often longer.
With arthroscopy, the surgeon makes one or two puncture holes and inserts a long thin needle. This is the scope. A tiny TV camera on the end of the needle allows the surgeon to look at a video screen and see inside the joint.
The joint is distracted and the bone fragment found and viewed on screen. Sometimes another special type of X-ray called fluoroscopy is also used. Fluoroscopy and arthroscopy used together help the surgeon make sure the bone fragment is lined up and reattached properly. A K-wire or pin is used to hold the piece of bone in place.
The short arm cast you're wearing is usually put on about one week after the surgery. The pin can be removed around week five after the operation. At that time, a hand therapist will give you a removable splint to use during volleyball and other strenuous activities.
You may need an exercise program to regain strength and motion. If you follow your surgeon's directions carefully, you should be able to rejoin the volleyball team around eight weeks post-operatively.Alejandro Badia, MD. Arthroscopic Reduction and Internal Fixation of Bony Gamekeeper's Thumb. In Orthopedics. August 2006. Vol. 29. No. 8. Pp. 675-678.
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