My son Avery jammed his thumb when he was about 2 years old.
I’m embarrassed to admit that it took a while for my wife, Nicole, and I to notice, and then we wondered if he was actually born with a crooked thumb – (photos attest to the fact that he did once have a perfect thumb). At the time we realized there was a problem the top joint of Avery’s less-than-3-years-old right thumb was completely immobile. He would not let me work on it at all so I let it be, for a while. We did consult with a few experts – an orthopedic doctor, a chiropractor, and a pediatrician – who all informed us that we were looking at surgery to correct the problem. One doc said the tendon would shorten and lose its elasticity and that we would definitely need surgery to remedy that issue as well as those in the joint itself. In an older person, the problem would have likely been diagnosed as arthritis. Again, we were dealing with a thumb that was completely immobile.
Now Avery is 5 years old. At some point a few months ago I realized it was time to act. He was old enough to handle the pain associated with breaking up the calcification that had formed on the joint. And if we did not mobilize the joint soon, I was concerned the bones of the joint would actually grow together, as at that age bones grow very quickly. Still Avery would not let me manipulate the thumb as I knew I needed to. Then my wife came up with the perfect solution – Disneyland.
I was immediately reminded how important motivation is in any healing situation. Once Avery learned he could earn a trip to Disneyland he was an eager participant in his treatment. It took us 3 weeks of regularly massaging and manipulating, the thumb to get it mobile. Once it was able to fully straighten I also taped it to keep it in position. Now, 6 weeks later, it is 90% fixed. Avery is so focused on getting his thumb right that he has, on occasion, woken Nicole and me in the middle of the night to tape his thumb as we had forgotten to do so the night before.
Now, the thumb is pliable and the calcification has dissolved enough to no longer cause concern. The next step is to get the thumb moving from the inside. I have complete faith that by his birthday at the end of May, the thumb will be back to normal and we’ll be partying with Mickey and friends at the Magic Kingdom.