Injuries to the UCL of the Thumb

Acute ruptures of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint of the thumb are due to forced radial deviation of the thumb. It is estimated that the incidence of thumb UCL rupture injuries in the UK is about 50 per 100 000 new ED attendances per annum.

The terms ‘Gamekeeper’s thumb’ and ‘Skier’s thumb’ are often used interchangeably to describe injuries to the UCL [2]. However, Skier’s thumb is a more acute injury, acquired by a falling skier. Gamekeepers acquire the injury over time as the result of chronic repeated trauma sustained due to using the thumb to snap rabbits necks, resulting in repeated stretching of the UCL.

Today, most cases of ligament damage in the MCP joint are caused from sports injuries.