A dislocated finger occurs when two of the finger bones, forming one of the joints, become displaced. This occurs in conjunction with finger sprains (damage to the ligaments supporting the finger joints).
Symptoms of a Dislocated Finger
- Immediate pain.
- Obvious deformity of the finger.
- Difficulty and pain when trying to move the finger.
- Rapid swelling.
- Bruising may appear.
- If any nerves are damaged, it may feel numb or tingly.
- If there is any damage to blood vessels, the skin may be cold and appear pale.
A finger dislocation can occur in any of the joints in the finger, but occurs most frequently in the middle joint, between the proximal and middle phalanges.
The most common causes of this kind of injury include jamming the fingers between something, such as a door and its frame, or a ball and a bat. It may also happen from a force on the end of the finger, overextending the joint. Fractures of the involved bones are common complications.
For a joint to dislocate the supporting ligaments are also damaged. This is called a sprained finger.
If a dislocated finger is suspected, then medical attention should be sought as soon as possible. In the meantime, don't try to move the finger or put it back in place. If possible, buddy splint it to the next finger, apply ice or cold water and keep it elevated above the heart. This will help reduce bleeding and swelling. Any tight clothing or jewellery should also be removed.
At the hospital, an X-ray will probably be taken to ensure there are no associated fractures. A Doctor will also examine the finger for signs of nerve or blood vessel damage.
The finger joint will need to be reduced, which means put back in place. If this hasn't happened naturally (sometimes it does) the Doctor will use a special manipulation technique to get the bones to move back into position. You may be given a local anaesthetic injection to help with this as it can be painful. A second X-ray may then be ordered to check the joint is properly aligned.
The finger will then be splinted or buddy strapped to the one next to it to immobilise it and allow it to heal. You will be prescribed pain killers from the Doctor and advised to rest, apply ice and keep the hand elevated when possible. A dislocated finger may take 4-8 weeks to fully heal and for full function to return (more if there are any complications).