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Help When Your First Digit Needs a Hand!

Updated on December 26, 2015

Not too hard, not too soft...just right!

It was four months ago (August) when I damaged my thumb.

There I was in the kitchen using my brand new slow cooker. I had cooked a piece of pork during the day and had just peeled some potatoes to serve mashed with our pork.

Imagine this...I turned to get a pot. My leg seemed to cave in or something (hard to remember exactly how it happened)...I felt myself slip on some water on the floor...I saw the dog bowl coming towards me and imagined my face in the bowl!

I avoided having my face in the dog bowl but slammed my thumb into the skirting board and hit the top of the thumb and hand on the overhanging cupboard.

In shock I was taken to the 24 hour emergency clinic. It was thought my thumb was broken but x-rays proved this not to be the case. They said "great news...it's not broken" but I've since heard that a strain can be harder to recover from.

As I said four months later and I'm still getting pain, my thumb is still swollen and getting movement is difficult.

After a couple of weeks I was sent to the Hand Clinic and I've been going there weekly since. First I had a hard cast made for me which was fitted over a comfort glove to help reduce swelling. I was given regular exercises but the swelling remained unchanged and my thumb lacked movement. My therapist asked if I slept in the cast...I didn't...so that night I tried it.

The next day...

For an hour my thumb throbbed with pain and I had developed a couple of very sore spots where the cast was rubbing. I made a special visit to the Hand Clinic as an appointment was squeezed in...I was then given a soft cast to use for sleeping and light duties.

I've had little tubes to fit over the thumb and now using 3M Coban (quite amazing stuff that is too) and a soft cast. Personally I felt this might be a little too soft and when I tried doing a stint of writing my thumb ached all day!

Stop beating around the bush did you say?

Well, I'm now in the Comfort Cool Thumb Splint! It's firmer than my soft cast which I will sleep in if need be (going to try without for a while) and much more comfortable than my hard splint. It has the right support to enable me to write and feels firm and comfortable. I can get more done in comfort. And...it's cool. The old soft splint gets far too hot in warm weather!

With this new thumb/wrist splint it is easier to get things done. It offers flexibility while still giving the support my thumb still seems to need. I've now graduated to exercises to gain some strength in my weakened joints and still wear the Comfort Cool splint.

As I said - not too hard, not too soft...just right!

The x-ray showed signs of osteoarthritis in my thumb. This will no doubt impede recovery so it is worth doing exercises that will help.

Some exercises for osteoarthritis of the hand.

Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bruising after the fallThe top of the thumb hit the overhanging cupboard.Bruised handStill swollen but bruising lighter.The hard cast was necessary in the first instance.  The glove was to help reduce swelling and make the cast more comfortable.A VERY sore spot developed after I slept in my hard cast!The soft cast I now use for sleeping in.  I was using this during the day as well...trying to wean off the hard cast.The Comfort Cool thumb splint.What it looks like unfolded.Another viewEasy to put on.Wrap the hand.Velcro keeps the parts together.Wrap around the thumb (more Velcro)......and over.  Velcro once again keeps the splint in place.  My therapist cut the last flap as it was quite long.
Bruising after the fall
Bruising after the fall
The top of the thumb hit the overhanging cupboard.
The top of the thumb hit the overhanging cupboard.
Bruised hand
Bruised hand
Still swollen but bruising lighter.
Still swollen but bruising lighter.
The hard cast was necessary in the first instance.  The glove was to help reduce swelling and make the cast more comfortable.
The hard cast was necessary in the first instance. The glove was to help reduce swelling and make the cast more comfortable.
A VERY sore spot developed after I slept in my hard cast!
A VERY sore spot developed after I slept in my hard cast!
The soft cast I now use for sleeping in.  I was using this during the day as well...trying to wean off the hard cast.
The soft cast I now use for sleeping in. I was using this during the day as well...trying to wean off the hard cast.
The Comfort Cool thumb splint.
The Comfort Cool thumb splint.
What it looks like unfolded.
What it looks like unfolded.
Another view
Another view
Easy to put on.
Easy to put on.
Wrap the hand.
Wrap the hand.
Velcro keeps the parts together.
Velcro keeps the parts together.
Wrap around the thumb (more Velcro)...
Wrap around the thumb (more Velcro)...
...and over.  Velcro once again keeps the splint in place.  My therapist cut the last flap as it was quite long.
...and over. Velcro once again keeps the splint in place. My therapist cut the last flap as it was quite long.

An Update....

OMG! It happened again early in 2015...the same thumb too!

I actually ended up with an avulsion fracture and was in a cast for four weeks. This was the result of walking the dog and tripping over uneven ground (a remnant of the earthquakes). Who would have thought walking the dog could be so dangerous!

Off to the doctor I went - the next day. She referred me back to the hand clinic who sent me for an X ray...result was, an avulsion fracture! I ended up in plaster for four weeks. That was the worst part really. Not being able to get it wet was very awkward!

I spent more time in all my thumb gear and visiting the hand clinic. Funnily enough I found the fracture was easier to recover from.

So what is an avulsion fracture? It is a bone fracture that occurs when a fragment of bone tears away from the main mass of bone.

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    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very painful experience. I hope it is alright now. Thanks for sharing your experiences to others to caution and help them.

    • LynetteBell profile image
      Author

      LynetteBell 3 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      @Elsie Hagley: Thanks Kiwiana71 for your comments. I'm using the soft splint a little less often now and my thumb is starting to feel a bit more normal!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Christmas has just gone, hope you thumb behaved and you are on the mend to a perfect thumb in 2014.