Please be aware, the information on this page relates to Luton & Dunstable University Hospital

H25 – Thumb Soft Tissue Injury

This is a soft tissue injury to your thumb


It can take up to 6 weeks for this injury to heal. Smoking will slow down your healing. We would advise that you stop smoking while you heal. Talk to your GP or go to for more information.

Pain and Swelling

Your thumb and hand may be swollen and you will have some pain. Taking pain medication and using ice or cold packs will help. You can use an ice pack or bag of frozen peas wrapped in a damp towel. Put this on your wrist for 15 minutes every few hours. Make sure the ice isn’t in direct contact with your skin.

Try to rest your thumb, especially in the first 24-72 hours, and avoid any aggravating movements.

Exercise and activity

It is important to start exercising as soon as possible. You will find pictures and instructions for your exercises on the next page. You should avoid lifting anything more than the weight of a cup of tea for the first 2 weeks. You can do light activities when your pain has settled.

Follow up

A follow up appointment is not normally needed for this injury. Please contact the Virtual Fracture Clinic if you are still experiencing pain and swelling after 6 weeks.

Contact us

If you notice bruising around the base of your thumb near the palm, a lump inside your thumb, your thumb feels ‘loose’ or unstable or, after 2 weeks, you cannot fully bend or straighten your thumb; or if you are concerned about any other symptoms or are unable to follow this rehabilitation plan, please contact the Virtual Fracture Clinic.

Caring for your injury: Week by Week

0 – 2 weeks since injury

  • √ – Use the splint for comfort (if you were provided with one). Remove the splint as soon as you can when pain settles.
  • √ – Move your thumb gently to prevent stiffness – see initial exercises
  • X – Do not drive if you are still using the splint or you cannot grip the steering wheel fully

2-4 weeks since injury

  • √ – Start doing your normal activities within the limitations of your pain
  • √ – Progress to additional exercises
  • X – Avoid heavy lifting tasks and contact sports

4-6 weeks since injury

  • √ – The injury has healed. Swelling however can last for several months
  • √ – Heavy lifting could be painful for up to 8 weeks. Increase gradually using pain as a guide.
  • √ – Return to normal activities

6+ weeks since injury

  • X – If you are still experiencing significant pain and swelling then please contact the Virtual Fracture Clinic for advice

Caring for your injury: Initial Exercises

It is important to start gentle exercises straight away to prevent stiffness. You will find pictures and instructions for your exercises below. Use your hand as normally as possible within the limitations of pain. The following exercises should be performed slowly and regularly every day. The purpose of these exercises is to help you regain full movement.

Little and often (a few of each movement every hour) is better that doing lots of repetitions.

Simple thumb exercises

  1. Move your thumb to your little finger
  2. Move your thumb out to the side
  3. Resting your little finger on the table, move you thumb outwards in line with your index finger and back in

Circular thumb exercises

  1.  Make an O shape with your thumb
  2. Touch the base of each finger with your thumb
  3. Move you thumb in a circle in one direction then the other

Caring for your injury: Additional Exercises

From 2 weeks

As with the initial exercises, the following exercises should be performed slowly and regularly every day.


You can do some simple exercises gradually after 2 weeks to help increase strength based on the stability of the fracture.

Use the elastic band around your fingers to strengthen the muscles in the hand.

Elastic band thumb strengthening exercise

  1. Move your thumb outwards and hold, return to start position
  2. Wrap band around your thumb and hold the other end of the band with your opposite hand, keep the thumb in the same position whilst pulling the band away
  3. Wrap the band around your fingers and thumb, with little finger resting on a table, move your thumb upwards and hold for a few seconds

The following pictures show different ball grip exercises. Start with 5 squeezes for each exercise, holding for a couple of seconds. Rest for 2 minutes before completing a further set. Increase the amount of repetitions for each exercise as able.

Ball exercises showing: extend out, side squeeze, ball grip (both versions), and pinching

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m concerned about my symptoms and/or I am struggling to return to exercise.

Please contact the Virtual Fracture Clinic.

I am struggling with my splint. What do I do?

Contact the Virtual Fracture Clinic. We can give advice or make changes if needed.

When can I start driving?

You can return to driving when:

  • You are not using the splint/strapping
  • You can move comfortably
  • You can control the vehicle safely

Always test your ability to drive in a safe environment first

How can I get a certificate for work?

You can self-certify for the first 7 days following your injury. For any longer periods, please discuss the provision of a fitness to work statement with the Virtual Fracture Clinic Team or your GP.

How do I contact the Virtual Fracture Clinic?

Call 01582 718121. Messages will be checked every morning Monday-Friday.