Bowler’s Thumb

This less common but potentially very painful condition can put an end to your game and must be dealt with carefully. Bowlers thumb was first identified in 1965 and documented in the Journal of the American Medical Association that same year.

Bowlers thumb is a neurological condition that occurs after injury to the nerve on the web side of the hand after repeated stress in the thumb hole of your bowling ball. The digital nerve of the thumb is involved and pain may range from mild sensitivity to excruciating pain. Fibrous tissue builds up around the nerve, causing pressure on the nerve and pain, numbness and tingling result. Bowlers may feel a nodule in the thumb and may also notice wasting of the muscles of the thumb.

Once established, Bowler’s thumb may take months to resolve during which time the affected hand should not be used for bowling.

The bottom line:
The surgery for this problem looks rough (see right). You don’t want to get to that point. If you suspect you have bowlers thumb, get it checked out. If you don’t, the time away from bowling will be longer than you want. Guaranteed.

Prevention: insertion of thumb 3/4 of the way into the hole. Ice.

Treatments: Sheath or splint, rest, surgery to relocate nerve.

Treatment with therapeutic ultrasound may have a satisfactory impact on the fibrous tissue buildup around the nerve and should be tried before more invasive procedures.