You’ve heard of tennis elbow. Well, a friend of mine has gamekeeper’s thumb. When he told me his diagnosis, it rang a bell. So I went through the Scientific American archives. And found this:
“Injury to the ulnar collateral ligament of the metacarpophalangeal joint trips off the tongue more agreeably as gamekeeper’s thumb. The name comes from the chronic ligament damage incurred by Scottish gamekeepers in the course of killing wounded rabbits.”
The article that comes from quotes a physician named Kevin Math, that’s right, Dr. Math, who explained, “The gamekeepers would grasp the hare’s neck between the base of the thumb and index finger, and repetitively twist and hyperextend the neck. The activity would have to be repeated thousands of times before the ligament would get stressed to that degree.” Talk about curling your hare.
The same thumb damage can result during a fall while skiing, from the torque of the pole strap. Doctors still refer to gamekeeper’s thumb more than skier’s thumb, even though schussers presumably outnumber bunny snuffers these days. My buddy’s was injured playing softball. So I’m happy to report that no animals were harmed in the making of his condition. For which we give him two thumbs up.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]