Hand Injuries – Only Jammed?
By Western Berks on March 21st, 2016
Sixteen million Americans go to the emergency room every year with hand injuries. Unfortunately, many more who decide their fingers are “only jammed” should see a physician. A deceptively complex part of the body, hands tightly pack 19 bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels into a small area. What appears to be a simple jam may hide a more serious injury that can result in painful joints, finger deformities, early arthritis and loss of hand function.
A severely “jammed finger” (sprain) is properly called a dislocated finger. Sprains occur when two bones that form a joint are forced apart. The ligaments and tendons that hold the bones in place stretch or tear, and the bones become painfully misaligned. Common among ball-handling athletes, sprains often occur when the force of the ball bends the fingers backward or to the side. First- and second-degree sprains are often relegated to the “just keep playing” mode of care, while the third degree (dislocation) usually requires realignment (reduction) and then frequently continued play with protection.
Dislocations can be quite complex injuries. Serious ligament damage can result in permanently deformed joints but is often misdiagnosed as a lesser sprain. When a finger is bent back far enough, a piece of bone may break off from the main bone while remaining attached to the tendon or ligament holding the joint together. Without an x-ray, these breaks are not obvious. Tendons can be more than 70% torn and continue to function. Untreated, tendon tears can eventually result in lost finger function.
Anyone who has a hand injury with the following signs needs prompt medical care:
- Severe bleeding
- Finger deformity
- Loss of motion
- Severe pain
Even if a trainer or a coach immediately realigns the bones after a dislocation, the injured person still needs to see a physician promptly to make sure bones are not broken and that joints are properly stabilized. If a splint or surgical treatment is necessary, we provide exercises for a full recovery and a return to a normal lifestyle after treatment. Protect your hands from permanent damage by taking hand injuries seriously.