Finger Dislocation

Brief Outline of Finger Dislocation

Finger dislocations¬†are more severe injuries than sprains and involve the displacement of the joint, altering the alignment of the finger. The joint must therefore be reset before the finger may be immobilised with casting, splint or taping. Splints allow the ligaments and joint capsule to properly heal. Such dislocations are common to many sports, particularly contact sports in which the athlete’s hands come in direct physical contact with other players (football, wrestling) or other sports emphasising use of the hands (volleyball, baseball, basketball, gymnastics, karate, and so forth).

Dislocated FingerAnatomy and physiology

Dislocation of a joint involves the tearing of ligaments and joint capsules surrounding the affected joint. Dislocation may occur in any of the joints in any of the fingers. Dislocation of the interphalangeal joints occurs most commonly in basketball and football. Dislocations of teh metacarpophalangeal (MCP) and basilar carpometacarpal (CM) joints can occur during falls on the outstretched hand.

Cause of Finger Dislocation

Fingers being stuck by a football, baseball, basketball, etc. Falling onto the outstretched hand. Abduction force applied to the thumb, as in a skier’s fall.

Signs and Symptoms

Immediate pain and swelling. Finger appears crooked. Inability to straighten or bend the dislocated joint.

Complications if left unattended

Deformity of the joint, loss of function, and developing arthritis can accompany an untreated finger dislocation. While some dislocations correct themselves without medical intervention, generally the displaced joint must be reset by an orthopaedic surgeon, followed by immobilisation during the healing of the injury.

Treatment

  • Stop unnecessary movement of the injured finger.
  • Reduction to the finger joint

Rehabilitation and prevention

Ligaments occasionally do not heal adequately following dislocation, and surgery may be required to repair damaged structures. Generally, finger dislocations are successfully treated by resetting the misaligned joint and holding the area rigid by means of a splint until thorough healing of the ligament and joint capsule has taken place. Stretching, strengthening, and mobility exercises may follow, to avoid stiffening or mobility loss in the affected joint.

Long-term prognosis

Most finger dislocations do not result in long-term finger deformity or loss of function, and a full recovery may be expected given aggressive early treatment.

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