A dislocation of the finger or thumb occurs when the bones of a joint a put out of place. It is quite a common injury in sports especially in the fingers.
A fracture is a break in the bone. Again these are common in sports. Although it is only a minor injury it is important to have it treated appropriately as without it the finger/thumb may remain deformed making tasks using the hand difficult.
Symptoms of Finger or thumb dislocations and fractures
• immediate pain at the site of injury
• deformity of the finger/thumb
• swelling and sometimes bruising of the affected finger/thumb
• inability to move the involved thumb/finger
Diagnosis and treatment
Your doctor will diagnose your finger or thumb dislocation or fracture. In both cases an x-ray would be done to see the alignment of the bones and what damage to the bones has occurred. In a dislocation the doctor will put the joint back into place and then splint the joint for a period of time. In the case of a fracture the doctor will reduce it and then immobilize it in a splint. In some cases in complicated fractures surgery is required to pin/screw or plate the bone back together.
Physiotherapy would begin once the doctor is happy that enough time has been allowed for healing to take place. The aim of physiotherapy is to restore full function to the affected finger or thumb and thus full function to the hand.
This would involve reducing any residual pain and swelling and gradually improving full range of motion and strength. It is important to note that in these fractures and dislocations soft tissues may also have been damaged and thus require treatment. Finally your physiotherapist will guide you in your return to sport and educate you in preventative measures to prevent re-injury (e.g. taping).