How does a dislocated finger heal?

Written by robin hewitt Google
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How does a dislocated finger heal?
(Wiki Commons)

If you've jammed your finger, twisted it violently or bent it into an unnatural position you may have dislocated the finger joint and the bones are no longer aligned properly. The gut reaction is to pop it back into place yourself and make the pain go away, but you'll find that this may cause more problems in the long run. A dislocated finger needs immediate medical attention to heal properly.

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Overview

If you've jammed your finger, twisted it violently or bent it into an unnatural position you may have dislocated the finger joint and the bones are no longer aligned properly. The gut reaction is to pop it back into place yourself and make the pain go away, but you'll find that this may cause more problems in the long run. A dislocated finger needs immediate medical attention to heal properly.

Causes and symptoms

Playing a sport is the number one cause of dislocated fingers, but any sudden twist to a finger may cause the joint to become dislocated. If you feel sudden, intense pain and your finger or thumb is in an unnatural position such as backwards, to the side or toward the palm then you are at risk for a dislocation.

Treatment

Seeking medical treatment as soon as possible is the key to healing a dislocated finger. While instinct might tell you to pull on the joint yourself, this may do further damage to the joint as well as ligaments and tendons. Wrap the hand in a towel, apply ice and head for your doctor's office or the nearest emergency room. A health care provider will take X-rays and look for damage to the joint and tendons, then apply a local anaesthesia before she relocates the finger. The doctor will then splint the finger according to the injury; sometimes a straight splint is required, sometimes a curved splint. Pain medication, ice and elevation will be prescribed for outpatient follow-up.

Healing Period

Expect to have the dislocated finger immobilised in a splint for at least a month. If there is damage to ligaments and tendons surgery may be required and a longer period of rest prescribed. The main object is to give the joint enough time to heal and allow the ligaments that hold the joint in place to regain their strength and elasticity. Once the initial healing period is complete the doctor will assign specific exercises to build finger strength gradually so that the finger won't be prone to future dislocation.

Warning

Self treatment or non-treatment of a dislocated finger can cause permanent damage such as joint stiffness, an unstable joint and long term restricted movement of the affected finger. The joint may be affected by arthritis after several years.

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