Beware The Broken Finger
Without fingers, complex actions like playing the piano or even typing this article would be impossible. The complex network of bones, ligaments, and tendons work together for proper hand function. Since the hands are the most used bones of the body, bones in the finger are susceptible to breaks. Broken fingers are in the top 5 of all ED visits for broken bones. Here’s how to spot finger fractures and what to know about possible treatment.
What causes finger fractures?
Trauma to the hands is the most common cause of fractures. Fractures often happen during activities like sports or workplace injury. Other reasons include falls or hitting something the wrong way. And while not impossible, finger fractures can occur from overuse. Persons can quickly jump to the conclusion that the finger is broken but is this the case?
Jammed, dislocated, or worse?
Finger injuries aren’t created equal. For instance, a finger can sometimes become jammed. With jammed fingers, the finger becomes bent out of place and unable to fully extend. Persons with jammed fingers have one or more damaged ligaments. With dislocated fingers, one of the joints is out of place. A doctor can help realign the joint. Fractures are the most serious of all and have clear signs when compared to other injuries.
Clear signs of a broken finger
Persons with a broken finger may feel swelling, tenderness, or bruising at the fracture. The digit may create severe pain during flexion or extension. Most of all, persons may see a deformed finger, based on the type of fracture. A compound fracture may penetrate the skin and cause some bleeding.
Treatment with splints
Treatment for a fractured finger depends on the extent of the damage. The doctor can tell the scope of the damage using an x-ray. In most cases, the doctor uses a simple splint and bandage. By securing the broken finger to the adjacent finger, the fracture can safely heal without surgery. Splints are useful for minor fractures. Further splinting may be needed if the finger is still unstable after 4 weeks.
Turning to surgery
Sometimes, a splint may not be enough to treat the finger. In these severe cases, surgery may be the only option. A board-certified surgeon will perform a fracture fixation to realign and hold the bones in place. With the patient under local anesthesia, the doctor will realign the bones. Wires, small screws, or pins will then help to keep the bones in place. The doctor will then place a splint or cast on the injured finger. This cast can stay for up to 6 weeks. Based on how well the finger heals, the surgeon may remove the screws at a later date.
Look for the signs and seek help
After an injury, look for the signs of a fracture. These include swelling, bruising, and a severely deformed finger. Sometimes, the bone pierces the skin, causing minor bleeding. Seek medical attention immediately and follow the doctor’s instructions. The doctor can realign the bones and provide a splint for support. However, more severe cases need immediate surgery. With the right treatment, the finger will function again in short order. For more information about finger fractures, speak with an orthopedic specialist.
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