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Home :: Finger Dislocation

Finger Dislocation

Injury to any finger joint so that adjoining bones are displaced from their normal position and no longer touch each other. Fractures and ligament sprains frequently accompany this dislocation. Finger dislocations are a common problem for athletes.

There are 3 areas where finger dislocations occur:

  1. Distal interphalangeal joints are the finger knuckles closest to the fingernails. Most of these dislocations are due to trauma and often there is an open wound at the locations of the dislocation.
  2. Proximal interphalangeal joints are the middle knuckles of the fingers. Most often these are known as "jammed finger" when athletes bend their fingers backward in contact with balls or other players.
  3. Metacarpophalangeal joints are the joints within the hand where the hand connects to the fingers. Dislocations in these joints are less common because these joints are more stable. If dislocations do occur, most likely the index or little finger is affected.

BODY PARTS INVOLVED

  • Any of the many finger bones.
  • Ligaments that hold finger bones in place.
  • Soft tissue surrounding the dislocation site, including periosteum (covering to bone), nerves, tendons, blood vessels and connective tissue.

Causes

  • Direct or indirect blow to the hand, finger or thumb.
  • End result of a severe finger sprain.
  • Congenital abnormality, such as a shallow or malformed joint surface.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Excruciating pain in the finger at the time of injury.
  • Loss of function in the dislocated joint.
  • Severe pain when attempting to move the injured finger.
  • Visible deformity if the dislocated finger has locked in the dislocated position. Bones may spontaneously reposition themselves and leave no deformity, but damage is the same.
  • Tenderness over the dislocation.
  • Swelling and bruising at the injury site.
  • Numbness or paralysis beyond the dislocation from pinching, cutting or pressure on blood vessels or nerves.

Treatment

Follow your doctor's instructions. Instructions are supplemental.

  • RICE: Rest the finger until Day 5 when you should start gentle motion exercises, apply Ice to finger (not directly onto skin) for 20 minutes up to 3 times a day for 2 days, Compression - Wrap an elastic compression bandage around the finger to limit swelling, Elevate the involved hand above the level of the heart as much as possible for the first few days or until there is decreased swelling (will help drain fluid and reduce swelling).
  • Use ice soaks 3 or 4 times a day. Fill a bucket with ice water, and soak the injured area 20 minutes at a time.
  • Apply heat if it feels better. Use heat lamps, hot soaks, hot showers, heating pads, or heat liniments and ointments.
  • Tape the injured finger to adjacent fingers.
  • Massage gently and often to provide comfort and decrease swelling.

Self-Care at Home

It is not recommended that you treat a dislocated finger at home. A visit to your doctor or the emergency department is usually necessary.

  • If you have a dislocated finger, the finger will swell. To prevent further injury to the finger, immediately remove any jewelry, such as rings.
  • Apply an ice pack to your injured finger and elevate the hand above the level of your heart.

Home Diet

  • Drink only water before manipulation or surgery to correct the dislocation. Solid food in your stomach makes vomiting while under anesthesia more hazardous.
  • During recovery, eat a well-balanced diet that includes extra protein, such as meat, fish, poultry, cheese, milk and eggs.
Prevention Tips
  • To prevent a recurrence, protect vulnerable joints after healing with protective devices or tape.
  • Wear protective gloves when possible.
  • Develop a high level of muscle strength and conditioning, including the hand area.
  • Remove rings or other jewelry before participating in athletic events and when working with your hands, particularly around machinery.
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