Finger fracture or broken finger is a common but serious injury that is capable of affecting normal life. Although finger bones are small, a finger fracture cannot be categorized as a minor injury. The bones of the hand are perfectly aligned to perform specific tasks such as grasping, or manipulating objects. A finger bone fracture disrupts this alignment and interferes with the normal function of the hand.
The hand comprises of 27 bones. They include eight wrist bones (carpals), five bones in the palm (metacarpals), and 14 finger bones (phalanges). Fractures involving the metacarpal bone leading to the little finger are the most common of all hand fractures
Medical treatment is necessary to restore function of the hand. If treatment is denied you will experience chronic pain and stiffness.
Types of Finger Fracture
The following are different types of finger fractures:
- Avulsion fracture - Here a ligament or tendon that is attached to the finger bone pulls away
- Impaction fracture - Here the broken ends of finger bone are in alignment
- Shear fracture - During shear fracture the finger bone splits into two because of force and moves in separate directions
- Open fracture - Here the finger bone breaks through the skin and gets exposed.
- Closed fracture - The skin remains intact, the bone is not visible from outside.
- Non-displaced or stable fracture - The finger bone breaks but is in alignment and does not move away
- Displaced fracture - The finger bone breaks into separate pieces that are no longer in alignment
- Comminuted fracture - Unstable fracture where the bone breaks into three or more pieces
Causes of Finger Fracture
A fracture of the finger bone occurs when you:
- Fall on your hand /fingers while trying to break a fall
- Playing sports / sports injuries
- Jamming your finger between the hinge of a door
- Use tools such as power saws or drills
If you are suffering from conditions such as osteoporosis
, chances of having your fingers fractured are increased.
Symptoms of Finger Fracture
- Swelling and pain at the site of injury
- Inability to move or use the finger
- Tenderness / bruising
- Deformity of affected finger
Diagnosis of Finger Fracture
If you’ve injured your finger and suspect a fracture then you must seek medical attention. Your doctor will physically examine the injured finger and check for fracture. He will observe the way in which your fingers are aligned when you extend your fingers or form a fist. He may recommend an X-ray of both hands to compare and evaluate the extent of fracture.
Treatment for Finger Fracture
If your fracture is not severe and can be easily mended then your doctor will put your finger into a cast or use finger braces or finger splints
for support and protection till your bones heal. It is not uncommon to use splints on the uninjured fingers, adjacent to the injured fingers, for additional support. Usually, casts and splints are worn for three weeks. Your doctor will monitor your finger periodically to evaluate your progress. Sometimes you may need to wear the splint for a longer period of time.
You may require a surgery to put your bones back in case of the following:
- Multiple or open fractures
- Joint injury
- Loose bone fragments
- Injury to tendons or ligaments
- Unstable /recurrent fractures
In the above cases surgery helps to regain alignment and functions of the hand. During surgery, plates, screws and pins are used to align the fractured bones and to hold them together.
Once your hand is removed from the splint or cast you will be advised to do physiotherapy. Simple rehabilitative exercises will be advised initially to help control stiffness and swelling. After a period of time more complex exercises that help to regain strength and function of your finger and hand will be recommended.