Jay Cutler’s Broken Thumb

In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.
Sir Isaac Newton

Though much aligned in phrases such as “I’m all thumbs” or “To be under one’s thumb,” the thumb is a very important body part.

Ask Chicago Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler– he broke the thumb of his throwing hand in yesterday’s game against the San Diego Chargers. The fracture was confirmed by Bears’ coach Lovie Smith this morning. According to the Chicago Tribune, the quarterback may be out 4 to 6 weeks. It was just announced that Cutler will undergo surgery to repair the fracture, but the date of that surgery has not been revealed.

Behold the noble thumb!

Although simple in appearance, the thumb is actually quite a complex structure. It is controlled by:

9 Individual muscles

which are controlled by all 3 major hand nerves

And moves in such a complex fashion that there are 6 separate terms for particular directions of movement of the basal joint, at the base of the thumb.

  • palmar abduction
  • radial abduction
  • palmar adduction
  • radial adduction
  • opposition
  • retropulsion

Photo credit: Eatonhand.com

Did You Know…?

… During the Gallic wars, Julius Caesar ordered the thumbs of captured warriers amputated so that when they returned to their country, they would serve as examples and be unable to bear arms again. This practice was later used in a number of wars and in the slave trade.

… Your thumb is the same length of your nose.

… The nail on the thumb grows slowest. (The nail on our middle finger grows fastest. )

… The average man’s penis is three times the length of his thumb.

… The term rule of thumb comes from the old English law that men couldn’t beat their wives with anything wider than their thumb.

… Contrary to popular opinion, humans – homo sapiens –  are not the only primates posessing opposable thumbs. Chimanzees and monkees can oppose the thumb to the index digit. What makes the human hand unique is the ability of the small and ring fingers to rotate across the palm to meet the thumb,  down in the middle of the palm. This is referred to as “ulnar opposition” and is responsible for the unparalleled grip, grasp, and torque capability to the human hand.

… Many men who read this article are still looking at their thumb.


Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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