Ligaments connect bones to each other across a joint; injury to a ligament often is called a “sprain.” The joint between the thumb and the hand in what we call the first web space is a frequently injured joint. When the thumb is “jammed” into a person, object, or the ground, the ulnar collateral ligament can be torn. This is called “gamekeeper’s thumb.” It also is called “skier’s thumb” after the skier who injures this ligament while holding a pole. The radial collateral ligament (on the other side of this joint) also can be torn.
If left untreated for several weeks or longer, the injury can be considered “chronic.” You might have pain with pinching activities or even with writing. Ligament reconstruction or even fusing the joint (so that it doesn’t move) might be recommended.