What is a Stener Lesion?

22 August 2017  |  Eugene

We use our thumbs for nearly everything we do. Every object we grip, every hand we shake, and most manipulations of objects we carry out during a day rely on our thumbs to do the bulk of the work. The strongest and most important of our digits, when our thumb is in trouble, we can't help but take notice. That's why, if you're experiencing pain, swelling or general dysfunction of your thumb, it's crucial to figure out what the problem is as soon as possible, so you can remedy the situation and nurse it back to health.

What Are Stener Lesions?

A Stener Lesion is a type of injury to the thumb in which the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) becomes torn. It is also known as Gamekeepers Thumb or Skier's Thumb, with a small difference. Once the injury to the UCL occurs, the torn end of the UCL near the adductor aponeurosis and adductor pollicis muscle begins to slip to the degree that it becomes displaced and trapped between the UCL and the MCP joint. This reduces the chances of a full recovery taking place, and often means that some surgical repair may be necessary.

What Causes Stener Lesions?

The injury that causes Stener Lesions is usually acute, and will often occur due to a sudden impact to the thumb, as can happen during skiing. Skiers will often have to push down hard on their pole, which can cause a sudden pull or twist of the thumb away from the hand, thus damaging the ulnar collateral ligament.

While the overlying condition that causes Stener Lesions is named for gamekeepers and skiers, it is a fairly common injury in other activities as well. For example, falling onto an uneven surface can often cause the thumb to bear the brunt of the impact, pushing it backwards to the point of injury. Likewise, trying to loosen a tight screw with the fingers can cause it as well, resulting in a twisting motion that can easily damage the thumb.

Once either Gamekeeper's Thumb or Skier's Thumb are diagnosed, the examining doctor must then look further to find if a Stener Lesion has occurred. This will usually only happen if the UCL has been completely torn, allowing the adductor pollicis muscle to trap the severed end of the UCL.

How Can I Tell If I Have Stener Lesions?

While we've already spoken about some of the key ligaments and actions involved with Stener Lesions, we're not all medical professionals, so we'll lay it out in simple terms. Here are some key symptoms to look out for to help you identify your Stener Lesions:

  • You experience pain when you pinch an object between your thumb and forefinger
  • You have difficulty when trying to grasp or hold onto an object
  • Your thumb may appear crooked, as it if were leaning away from the rest of your hand

While these are some tell-tale signs of Stener Lesions, the condition can sometimes be more subtle, and harder to tell before symptoms get worse. That's why, if you're unsure, it's always best to consult your physician.

Thumb spica splint Stener lesions thumb injury

Man holding his wrist with Stener Lesions

How to Treat Stener Lesions

Treatment of this condition depends on the severity, but in most cases, since an entire rupture of the UCL must occur, some surgery is necessary. If the adductor aponeurosis is completely stuck in between the ruptured ends of the UCL, surgery is unavoidable, though with some more minor cases splinting may suffice. In either case, once surgery has been completed, you will no doubt require the use of an immobilising splint to allow a full recovery to take place.

As with most injuries, a great way to reduce pain and inflammation after occurrence or surgery is to apply ice to the area. This will slow the increase of swelling in the area, increasing comfort for you, and making it easier to diagnose the condition for your physician. Anti-inflammatory medications are also a good idea, and are usually available in most local shops.

Which Splint Do I Need?

At WristSupports.co.uk, we have supports, splints and braces for every hand-and-wrist-related condition, and we appreciate sorting through them can be a tough task for the uninitiated. For treatment of Stener Lesions, a Thumb Spica splint or Thumb Stabiliser will be the most effective.

To see all the splints we have on offer to combat your condition, take a look at our full range of Wrist Supports for Stener Lesions by clicking the yellow button below.


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