Few physical features play as crucial a role in your ability to perform routine activities, like lifting, holding, and carrying objects more than the fingers.
Unfortunately, when your hands sustain an injury, you can experience great pain and possibly even disability. Especially concerning injuries are finger fractures.
The fingers are made up of 14 bones scientifically called phalanges. Additionally, the palm contains five bones that attach to the phalanges, which are called metacarpals.
Fractures or breakages of these bones often results from blunt trauma or from weakening produced by disease.
In most instances, finger fractures are the result of an acute, forceful injury, including:
- A hard fall.
- Athletic competition-related contact.
- Accidentally jamming a hand inside a doorway.
- Automobile accidents.
- Slamming a hand down in anger or frustration.
Occasionally, finger fractures might result from illnesses such as osteoporosis or various forms of cancer. Bone fractures brought forth by a disease are medically known as pathological breaks.
Finger fractures often produce pain. This discomfort can be intense and usually begins immediately following an acute injury. Other symptoms might include:
- Redness around the finger.
- Significant swelling.
- Tenderness to the touch.
- A feeling of warmth surrounding the affected bone.
Moderate to severe fractures might produce more serious concerns, such as deformity of the broken finger and the inability to move it.
A fractured finger greatly reduces the capacity to engage in any action involving the hands. Efforts that need gripping, holding onto an object, or lifting items off a surface could prove challenging and, in some cases, impossible.
Those who have sustained a finger fracture should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Patients actually play an important role in helping a doctor confirm the diagnosis and prescribe the most appropriate treatment.
You are encouraged to be as detailed as possible with your examining physician. Describing the events leading up to the break-causing event will help your physician discover the specific bone that split, in addition to the way the fracture occurred. Breaks can happen in a spiral formation, straight across, splinter into many pieces, or entirely shatter.
The first stage of the diagnostic process will involve a physician performing a visual examination and requesting that you perform certain movement tests. Your doctor might use imaging devices like X-rays to confirm the diagnosis and assess how serious the fracture is.
Like many other physical injuries, the severity will determine the type of treatment and how aggressive such efforts must be. Fortunately, a large percentage of finger fractures do not require surgery. Significant or complicated fractures may need surgical intervention.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
Physicians can usually reposition mild to moderate finger fractures. After completing this process, the physician will likely place the injured finger inside a supporting device such as a splint or cast. This will ensure the finger remains in a fixed position, promoting healing and reducing the risk of encountering further damages.
Individuals heal at their own pace. Establishing recovery time frames often proves challenging. On average, supporting devices are worn for roughly three weeks.
Once removed from a splint or cast, many physicians advise to have some form of rehabilitative therapy. These exercises help the finger regain the strength and mobility it might have lost while immobilized.
When an operation is required to correct finger fractures, surgeons usually realign broken digits using objects like pins, wires, and screws. Following the procedure, the patient’s finger is typically immobilized anywhere from four to six weeks.
Occasionally, the hardware placed inside the fractured bone is removed. Those materials may be left inside the affected bone to ensure proper healing and to prevent bone shifting.
Following removal of the stabilizing device, the patient typically begins physical therapy lasting for up to three months. In total, recovery from finger fracture surgery can take as long as four months.
Since many finger fractures result from sudden and unexpected accidents, prevention is not always easy. That said, doctors caution patients to place significant emphasis on safety. This means protecting your hands whenever possible and refraining from reckless actions that could put the health of your hands in jeopardy.
Finger fractures are serious physical injuries needing immediate medical attention. Talk to your Florida Orthopaedic Institute physician today to learn more about Fractured Fingers.