Hand & Finger Injuries
Injuries to the hand and fingers are common in sports and must be taken seriously. Injuries in this area can be very debilitating and if treated incorrectly they can have long-term consequences in terms of hand and finger function.
A sprained finger occurs when the finger is bent in some way causing damage to the ligaments which connect bones together. It is a common injury in ball games such as American football, basketball, cricket and handball. A sprain can be helped by rest, ice and compression and also a taping method, details of which can be seen below.
Trigger Finger is a form of tenosynovitis which results in the finger becoming bent in towards the palm of the hand. This can also occur in the thumb known as trigger thumb. There is no specific cause but a variety of factors are detailed below which can make the condition more likely, including gaming and texting! The treatment depends on the severity of the condition and can range from resting to surgery.
A thumb sprain occurs when the thumb is bent out of its normal range of movement, usually backward. It can happen in sports like skiing, rugby and basketball and causes pain and swelling. The ligaments supporting the joint at the bottom of the thumb get damaged, and this can be helped by taping, icing and compression.
A broken thumb is a fracture of either of the two small bones called phalanges which make up the thumb. A broken thumb is not as common as a broken finger but is just as painful! Icing the thumb and avoiding moving it can help ease the pain until a doctor examines it for any possible complications.
The metacarpal bones are the five long bones in the hand. Any of these bones can be broken or fractured but the 1st metacarpal under the base of the thumb is the most commonly injured. The fracture is usually caused by a direct impact which causes pain in the area. Treatment for these kinds of fractures usually involves immobilisation in a cast followed by strengthening exercises.
A broken finger is a break or fracture in any one of the 3 small phalange bones which make up each finger.
A black fingernail is known as a subungual hematoma and is caused by a build-up of blood under a fingernail. This usually results from an impact or trauma to the finger which can cause considerable pain. In most cases ice and ibuprofen is sufficient to treat it and medical attention is not needed, unless it is very severe, as detailed below.
The volar plate is a very thick ligament which joins two bones in the finger. A volar plate injury occurs when the finger is bent too far back the wrong way, spraining or tearing the ligament. In some cases this finger injury can also involve a fracture. Read more on volar plate injury and how to treat it here.
A dislocated finger occurs when two of the finger bones forming joints become displaced, injuring the ligaments and other soft tissue in the process. The finger will look deformed and severe pain will be felt. Medical help should be sought immediately, especailly as there can be complications involving nerves and ligaments.
Bowler's Thumb is an overuse injury resulting from compression or repeated friction on the inside of the thumb which causes pressure on the Ulnar nerve. As the name indicates, bowling is the main cause of this injury and causes the area to feel numb and weak. Resting from the activity causing the pain will usually help treat it.
This finger injury makes you unable to extend or straighten the end joint of a finger without assistance. It can happen from sports and other daily activities and causes pain and tenderness to the area. The severity of the injury can vary from a stretching of the tendon to the tendon coming unattached from the bone.
A boutonniere deformity or buttonhole deformity is an injury to a tendon in one of the fingers, resulting in a deformed shape. This usually occurs after an impact to a bent finger. See below for more on the causes, symptoms and treatments of Boutonniere deformity.
Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the superficial and deep layers of the skin. In the fingertip, this is known as a felon. It is often caused by a small injury to the end of the finger which can make it painful and swell up. Read more about this infection and how to treat it.
Handlebar palsy is a name given to a common condition suffered by cyclists. The symptoms are caused by compression of the ulnar nerve at the wrist against the handlebar. Treating this injury is usually simple, but sometimes medical help may be needed. Read more about Handlebar palsy here.
A bruised hand, also known as a hand contusion, occurs due to a direct trauma of the hand. Impacts and crush injuries are the most common causes. This hand injury usually results in bleeding and subsequent bruising, and will be painful to touch. Rest and ice are two of the main ways to help this injury.
Dupuytren's contracture is a condition which affects the hand and fingers, causing the fingers to bend in towards the palm of the hand. Tissue in the hand contracts and becomes shorter, although this does not normally cause pain. Many cases do not require treatment, although if the condition is severe, there are options you can take.
A Rolando Fracture is a fracture to the base of the 1st metacarpal where it joins the carpal bones between the thumb and the wrist. This is similar to the Bennett fracture, although a little more complex to treat as the metacarpal is fractured into several pieces. This causes considerable thumb and wrist pain, with surgery nearly always needed.
A Boxer's fracture is a break to either the 4th or the 5th Metacarpals which are the long bones on the outside of the hand. As the name indicates, this injury is usually caused by a hard impact against the hand, like a punch. Read more about how this hand injury can be treated.
Jersey finger is a tear of one of the flexor tendons in a finger. There are four tendons of the Flexor Digitorum Profundus muscle which pass into each of the fingers. This finger injury is common in contact sports and can cause the tendon to bunch at the base of the finger. Read more on the steps you should take to treat this injury below.