Jay Cutler Undergoes Surgery for a Broken Thumb
Jay Cutler, quarterback for the Chicago Bears, underwent surgery today for a Bennet’s fracture or break on his throwing thumb. What is this injury? Can he make it back to play this season?
The human hand is composed of 27 bones. These bones are grouped into categories: the carpal, metacarpal, and phalanges. The human hand has five metacarpals.
A Bennett’s fracture is a break at the base of the metacarpal of the thumb.
This injury is usually accompanied by a dislocation or a subluxation (partial dislocation) of the thumb. This injury makes the thumb unstable, particularly for gripping activities, such as holding a football.
There are a number of strong ligaments and tendons that attach to the smaller piece of bone that is broken.
The most common causes of Bennett’s fractures are: a punch or a direct blow against a football helmet or skull, or a fall, particularly while holding a handle bar of a bike or motorcycle.
Athletes with a Bennett’s fracture will have pain at the base of the thumb. There will be instability of the thumb with gripping or pinching motions. There will be weakness with these activities as well. There will be pain, swelling and bruising around the base of the thumb.
Athletes with a Bennett’s fracture will require surgery. Surgery can be performed in a variety of manners: with small incisions and screws, with screws and plates, or with pins alone. If the smaller piece is very small and not out of place, a “thumb” spica cast can be placed for non surgical treatment. Whether surgical or non surgical treatment is performed, a cast for 4-6 weeks is needed.
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE
If you suspect that you have a Bennett’s fracture, you should seek medical care within hours of the injury. A good physical exam, x-rays, and perhaps a CT scan or MRI may be needed to evaluate the hand.
RETURN TO ACTIVITIES/OUTCOMES
Regardless of the type of treatment, a cast is needed for 4-6 weeks. Thereafter, physical therapy and rehabilitation is required. It is usually 6 to 8 weeks before throwing activities can be started without pain.
If lucky, Cutler may be able to return late this season, especially if the Bears make is deep into the playoffs.
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