Spring-loaded thumb requires surgery

Although spring thumb is not very frequent, it is the most common pathology of the upper extremity in children, excluding trauma. In spite of being a simple pathology, it is often unknown even by the same health personnel, so that sometimes the diagnosis is confused as a lesion produced by a traumatism, prescribing wrong treatments.

Diagnosis of spring thumb

This anomaly is usually diagnosed in children from 1 to 3 years of age. At first a snapping or springing sound may be noticed when flexing and extending the thumb, which is sometimes painful; but more commonly the child has a flexed thumb that cannot be extended, and a small lump may be felt at the base of the thumb. It is caused by a conflict of space between the flexor tendon of the thumb and a fibrous band on the inside that acts as a pulley from which it slides.

If this pulley is too narrow, the tendon becomes irritated and inflamed by the friction every time the child moves the finger, until the nodule formed by this inflammation does not fit inside the pulley and the finger is blocked without being able to extend.

Treatment of spring thumb

It is rare that the spring thumb resolves spontaneously, so its treatment is to perform surgery when the child is more than 1 year old. The operation of the spring thumb is simple, although it requires general anesthesia. It consists of opening the pulley to allow the tendon to slide. Recovery from the operation is quick, as long as it takes to remove the stitches, and good results are obtained.