By Chen Li – BAppSc(Phty), Hand Therapy Group Physiotherapist, Accredited Hand Therapist (AHTA), Certified Hand Therapist (USA)
Finger injuries are generally known as a ‘jarred finger.’ It commonly occurs in sports such as netball, AFL, oz tag and rugby. Quite often they are left untreated and can lead to swelling, stiffness, pain and finger deformities. Here we take a look at the most common finger injuries and how a hand therapist can help.
Volar Plate injury
A volar plate injury is when the ligaments of the proximal interphalangeal joint (PIP joint) are torn when the finger is forced backwards into hyperextension. It can also be associated with a small fracture at the PIP joint. Signs and symptoms include swelling at the middle portion of the finger, pain when trying to straighten or bend fingers and reduced range of movement.
Central slip injury
Central slip injury is often caused by a joint dislocation or forced flexion of the PIP joint. This causes rupture of the central slip, which is part of the extensor tendon that straightens the PIP joint. The tendon can tear away from the bone or pull a small fracture fragment with it. Signs and symptoms include swelling at PIP joint and inability to straighten at the PIP joint. If left untreated, a boutonniere deformity can occur, where the PIP joint rests in a flexed position and the distal interphalangeal joint (DIP joint) sits in hyperextension.
Mallet finger results from either a fracture or tear of the extensor tendon at the distal interphalangeal joint (DIPJ). This results in the inability to straighten the tip of your finger. It usually occurs when the tip of the finger is forced to bend, and occurs with ball sports, as well as incidental activities. If left untreated over time, it can cause a swan neck deformity, where the DIP joint rests in flexion and PIP joint rests in hyperextension.
How can a hand therapist help?
A hand therapist, either qualified as a physiotherapist or occupational therapist, can assess and diagnose your injury. They can fabricate custom-made thermoplastic splints to treat the above injuries. Treatment also includes swelling management, range of movement exercises and advice on activity modification. If the injury is severe, they will refer you to a hand surgeon.
If you have a jarred finger, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our clinics, such as Hand Therapy.