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Thumb Sprain
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Thumb Sprain

I injured my thumb about a week and a half ago when I was lifting a microwave onto a stand that was too high.  I lost my grip with one hand, and it bent my right thumb wrong.  I went to the doctor on Monday, and she took an x-ray, and said nothing was broken.  She said continue taking advil and try to rest it, and that was all.  It's not getting any better--it's still getting worse.  THe second joint (where it attaches to the hand) is still swollen and quite sore.  I have no strength when I grip with my thumb.  I just can't seem to rest it enough to heal, because i am quite busy and am packing and cleaning for moving etc.  Should I revisit my Doctor to see if there is something worse than a sprain?  Could I get a brace or splint to wear to help rest it and let it heal while I'm so busy, or would that cause problems from lack of motion?  I don't want a permanently damaged thumb, but I would like it to heal more quickly than it is.

Emily
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Dear Emily,

Thank you for visiting the Family Practice Forum.
I am going to assume that your doctor read the Xray correctly and therefore you have no fracture. It sounds like you have a fairly significant sprain of the thumb, however. This would typically improve with the use of "gentle" range of motion exercises and possibly the use of an anti-inflammatory medication such as Motrin. I rarely, if ever, put patients with a thumb sprain in a splint, unless they continue to "overuse" the sprained area. Sometimes a splint helps to serve as a reminder to "rest" the area. It sounds like you have probably not rested the area long enough.
If the pain persists despite rest, anti-inflammatory medication (i.e. Motrin), and gentle range of motion exercises, after a few weeks your doctor may consider sending you to a "hand therapist" (a type of "occupational therapist") for some more aggressive therapy to the thumb.
Remember, in many cases sprains may take up to 4 weeks (or more) to fully heal. The most important factor in helping a sprain heal is to make sure you "REST" it. If you are going to wear a splint, make sure you take it off at least twice a day to perform gentle range of motion exercises. This will help avoid stiffness in the joint.
I hope this helps!
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Every time i practice football, like my catching skills, my left thumb a ways seem to get sprain or brused. Why? My right is always at 100% but not the left. Am i catching a wrong way or is my left thumb just weaker than my right? Also how can i heal it?
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