Hand and Finger Injuries

Hand and finger injuries can be very complex due to the small bones and joint structures involved. The wrist and hand is composed of 29 bones, 19 in the hand and fingers, 8 in the wrist and 2 in the forearm. As a complex the wrist, hand, and fingers are capable of a great variety of movements, however the forearm muscles are actually responsible for most of the movement and strength of the hand and fingers.

The hand is a very commonly injured part of the body because of its constant involvement in almost all activities. Because of this it requires accurate and early diagnosis. Minor hand injuries can become chronic problems, affecting not only day to day activities but also your job requirements and lifestyle.

Fractured Metacarpal (hand bones)

What Is a fractured metacarpal?shutterstock_MTfracture

It is when one of the knuckle bones is broken.

What causes a fractured metacarpal?

A fracture of the metacarpal usually occurs when the hand is hit at high speed by a hard object or in a punching incident. This type of injury is seen in boxing and martial arts sports as well as when falling heavily onto the outstretched hand.

How does a fractured metacarpal feel?

Not all hand and finger injuries prevent the person from continuing to function or play sport at the time of injury. Initially you may feel intense pain at the fracture site anywhere between the knuckle and the wrist joint. When looking at the wrist there maybe immediate swelling or an obvious deformity of the bones in your hand.

Management of a fractured metacarpal and how to fix it

The diagnosis and management of this type of condition will require an X-Ray. Once a fracture of the metacarpal is identified then it maybe managed by the wearing of a splint or cast. The fracture maybe bad enough to require surgery to stabilise the bones.

Finger Ligament Injuries

What Is a finger ligament injury?

This is when one or more of the ligaments supporting the finger joints is damaged.

What causes a finger ligament injury?

Finger ligament injuries occur when the ligaments supporting the small joints of the fingers are overstretched due to forceful loads. Most commonly, this will occur during ball sports when the ball hits the end of the finger or when the finger gets caught in an opponents jumper.

How does a finger ligament injury feel?

Sudden pain can be quite severe. Normally swelling and deformity is apparent within a short period.

Management of a finger ligament injury and how to fix it

The first thing that should be done is to avoid further injury by ceasing activity or splinting the finger with buddy strapping. First aid in the form of the RICER (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and Referral) regime should be administered as this will reduce blood flow, swelling and pain. You should continue the RICE regime until you consult a sports medicine professional, preferably within 2 days of the initial injury. Physiotherapists can accurately assess and diagnose the injury to determine the best method of treatment. Specialised treatment techniques to assist in reducing pain and swelling and enhance the healing of the injured ligaments will be commenced. This will include an appropriate progression of exercises aimed at increasing range of motion and strength. Referral for an x-ray may be necessary as avulsion fractures are common.

Ganglion Formation

What Is a ganglion?

A ganglion is a sac of fluid which forms a bump or mass under the skin.

What causes a ganglion?

The exact cause of a ganglion is not completely understood but it is thought that a weakness in the joint lining ir surrounding tendon allows for the swelling to push out, almost like a ‘herniation.’

How does a ganglion feel?

Ganglion’s may or may not be painful. Depending on the size, they can restrict the mobility of the surrounding joint. Ganglions can change in size.

Management of a ganglion formation and how to fix it

A ganglion is not a serious condition. If it is not painful or restrictive to function, no treatment is necessary. A painful ganglion should be assessed by your doctor or physiotherapist. Compression and splinting of the wrist can assist in reducing the symptoms. Your doctor or a specialist may remove some fluid with a needle and use an injection of  anti-inflammatories to assist in reducing pain and swelling. If this fails, surgery is often required. The old fashion remedy of bashing it with a book is not recommended.

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