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Finger Joint Injuries

What are finger joint injuries?

Hands and fingers are used constantly in daily activities, and the risk of injury is high. Fingers are hinge joints – they bend and straighten or open and close just as a hinge does. Each finger has three bone segments, or phalanges, separated by two interphalangeal or IP joints. The joints are connected and supported by muscles, tendons and ligaments. Any of these can become injured. Injuries can run the gamut from simple sprains and strains to fractures, dislocations or crushing injuries. A finger joint injury that is ignored or improperly treated can result in life-long disability and affect the ability to write, type or perform normal daily activities.


How are finger joint injuries caused?

A strain is usually the result of overuse. Any motion that is constantly repeated can cause fatigue and inflammation, resulting in tendonosis. A sprain is a ligament injury and usually results from trauma that stretches and sometimes tears one or more ligaments in the finger. Fractures, dislocations and crushing injuries are all caused by trauma. When you fall it’s natural to put your hands out to try and catch yourself, but you may land on the tip of a finger and jam the joint or bend the finger so far forward or back that the joint is dislocated or one of the phalanges breaks. Something like slamming a car door on your hand can also result in a fracture as well as injury to the soft tissues, tendons and ligaments.


Treatment Options for finger joint injuries

Non Surgical Treatment

There are a number of non-surgical treatment options for finger joint injuries. Some injuries simply need rest. A strain from overuse, for example, will not heal if you continue to do whatever it is that irritates the finger. RICE – rest, ice, compression and elevation – is usually the first option for non-surgical treatment. Rest the affected finger. In some cases a splint may be necessary to immobilize the finger and prevent further injury. Apply ice to decrease swelling and relieve pain. Compression with an elastic bandage can also help decrease swelling, as can keeping the hand elevated. The IP joints become stiff very quickly, so splinting and bracing must be balanced with finger movement to prevent a permanent loss of function.

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment options depend on the nature and severity of the injury. A torn ligament, for example, must be repaired to prevent loss of function. A fracture of a finger bone may require the use of pins, wires or screws to stabilize the bone and allow it to heal.


How is finger joint surgery done?

Finger joint surgery is usually done with an open incision or by placing wires through the skin without a cut. An open incision, as the name implies, involves making a cut in the area of the injury to repair the fracture and insert any metal appliances that are necessary. In some cases, a finger joint injury can be repaired by placing pins without making an incision, which is less traumatic to the joint.


Recovery Time

The nature and severity of the injury, as well as the need for surgery, will determine how long it takes to recover from a finger joint injury. Strains and sprains may heal within two or three weeks. A fracture can take six to eight weeks to heal. Open surgery usually takes longer to heal than a closed procedure as there is more surgical trauma; healing from surgery can take up to eight weeks. Physical therapy may also be necessary to regain full function of the injured finger or fingers.


Why See Dr. Knight for finger joint injuries?

Dr. Knight is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and specialist in the care of the hand who has over 20 years’ experience in both surgical and non-surgical treatment of finger joint injuries. He uses state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to ensure the best possible outcome.


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