Finger Dislocation: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

A variety of different things can cause a finger injury. You can bruise it or cut it when you’re in the kitchen, or even smash it when working out in the shop. But, a finger dislocation is a totally different type of injury. Take a look at the causes, symptoms, and your treatment options should you find yourself in the position of having a dislocated finger.

Causes

The cause of a finger dislocation is either “jamming” your finger on the end of the fingertip with an excessive force, or it can be caused if your finger becomes overextended in a particular direction. This can happen due to you experiencing a fall and landing wrong on the outstretched hand when you’re trying to catch yourself. It can happen when you’re playing a variety of sports such as basketball or baseball and having the ball jam your finger. You may also get your finger caught in either sports equipment or other type of equipment and pull your finger out of its normal placement.

Symptoms of Finger Dislocation

Typically, when you have dislocated your finger you’re going to know it. It’s not a subtle injury that you may question what happened. Your finger will look either crooked or bent in an odd shape and there will be pain and swelling as well. You may also experience numbness or tingling in the finger and the finger will start to look pales as well. There’s also a chance, depending on how severe the finger injury is, that it will break the skin when you have a finger dislocation.

Treatment Options

Any sign of a finger dislocation calls for a trip to the doctor or ER. You need to have the finger put back into place before any permanent damage is done. The longer you wait to receive treatment, it can make it more difficult to put it back into place or can cause irreversible damage.

Before you get to the doctor, make sure to remove any items of jewelry from the injured finger if you have any on. Travel to the doctor’s office with ice on your hand. Once you arrive at the doctor they will most likely give you a local anesthetic or some pain medications via IV or mouth so that the doctor can put your finger back into its proper place. Once that has happened you’ll receive either a splint or have your finger taped to the healthy one next to it. This will help it to heal and prevent any chance of it slipping back out of place during healing.

What Is Mallet Finger?

A mallet finger is when there is an abnormality of the finger caused by damage to the extensor tendon. This injury is usually sustained when a ball hits the top of the finger or thumb, injuring the extensor tendon which is responsible for straightening the finger. As this injury is often seen in baseball players, it is also known as baseball finger.

Causes

As mentioned above, a mallet finger is due to a sudden impact acting on the finger, causing the tendon to tear. This is often suffered in high tempo sports such as basketball, baseball and soccer in the case of a goalkeeper. If the attempt to catch the ball is missed, it will hit the finger and an immediate sharp pain followed by numbness will be felt. Tendons are fibrous connective tissues responsible for connecting our muscles to the bones and a mallet finger is resulted from either the tearing of the tendon or an avulsion fracture of the finger.

Symptoms

The most common symptom is the inability to straighten the injured finger on its own without external help. The finger may be swollen, bruised and turned purplish. In cases where the ball hit the fingernails, there may be blood clots beneath the nail which will need to be drained a couple of days later.

What happens to you?

Following a baseball finger injury, you will need to wear a protective splint for a period of time which is dependent on the extent of your injury. In minor cases involving only the stretching of the tendon, the finger will heal within 1.5 months. In an attempt to speed up the recovery process, you can apply ice to it whenever possible while keeping your hand elevated above your heart.

In more serious cases where the tendon is torn, a recovery duration of roughly 2 months is needed followed by another 1 month of wearing the splint only when you sleep. In cases where splinting does not help, surgery will be required to reattach the tendon. Following surgery, a lengthy recovery period is required for your finger to regain its original functions. The surgeon will attach small screws and pins connecting the bone fragments and these will dissolve away in a few months’ time on its own.

You can slowly start to resume your normal activity after a few months and finger flex exercises should be performed to help regain the flexibility and mobility of the finger joint.