Finger Fractures Overview
Your hand is made up of 27 bones – Eight bones are located in your wrist known as carpals; five bones located in the palm known as metacarpals. The 14 finger bones in your fingers are called phalanges. Metacarpal bone fractures of the little finger account for around one-third of all hand fractures in adults. Broken finger bones nearly account for 10% of all broken bones.
What is a Finger Fracture?
The finger bones are called phalanges, and each finger consists of three phalanges, except the thumb which has only two phalanges. A broken, or fractured, finger occurs when one or more of these bones’ breaks. A finger fracture is a result of an injury to one of the phalanges (finger bone). A fracture might damage any of your phalanges. Fractures may also damage the bones in your knuckles, where the finger bones and palm bones meet.
Different Types of Fingers Fractures
The American Society for Surgery of the Hand states that types of hand fracture are infinite. The phalanges are divided into distal phalanges (fingertip bones), middle and proximal phalanges.
Finger fracture types
The following is the classification of different types of finger bone fractures:
Fractures to the distal phalanges are very common. Often, they cause crush injuries to the fingertips. It leads to the accumulation of blood below the nail, nail bed damage and open injuries. Amputations of this distal finger bone are relatively frequent.
Fractures to the middle and proximal phalange include distal tuft fractures and shaft fractures. These are common distal phalange fractures.
Fractures to the middle and proximal phalange include transverse fracture, oblique fracture, spiral fracture, comminuted fracture.
Finger fractures are also classified based on the relation to the phalangeal joints.
Extra-articular fractures occur in the phalange shaft leading to rotational deformity.
Intra-articular fractures occur at the site of phalangeal joint surfaces.
Mallet finger fracture
It is the injury to the thin tendon – owing to which the end joint of the thumb or finger straightens. A mallet finger fracture is also known as a “baseball finger”. This type of injury occurs when someone hurt the tip of their finger or thumb and that forces the finger to bend further.
Hairline finger fracture
Hairline fractures are non-displaced fractures. These fractures commonly occur with an injury followed by a thin fracture in the bone. This type of fracture is not as noticeable as other types but mostly associated with soft tissue, swelling, tenderness and localized pain.
Causes of a Broken Finger
Finger fractures might be caused by various mechanisms, which exerts axial forces on the phalanges (finger bones). The fractures include crush injuries, a direct blow by hard objects or torsion energy on the fingers. The following are some of the most frequently caused fractures.
- Fractures that happen while trying to catch the ball in sports like cricket, volleyball, basketball, soccer, rugby etc.
- Fingers stuck in carpentry types of machinery like mixers, saws
- Crush injuries happen in vehicle accidents stuck in car doors, under the hammer etc.
- Falling onto your fingers/hands hardly
- Hitting or direct blow by hard objects
A finger fracture might also result from medical conditions that make your bones weak or brittle.
Symptoms of finger fractures may include:
- A snap or pop sound at the time of finger injury
- Tenderness right after the injury
- Pain when you touch the injured finger
- Inability to bend or move your finger
- Changes in the shape of the injured finger or out of alignment
The absence of severe pain doesn’t mean that the injured finger doesn’t need medical attention. When you hurt your finger, the best way is to consult an orthopaedic doctor to avoid further complications.
Treatment For Finger Fractures
Treatment for a fractured finger varies depending on the location of the fracture and its severity. The treatment can be either surgical or non-surgical. If the fracture involves a broken bone, then your broken pieces of bone are aligned and pushed back into its place, then a splint or cast is tied to hold the finger straight while healing. If the fracture is stable, then the fracture is tied to your adjacent finger until it heals.
If the fracture is unstable or displaced, the surgeon may perform surgery. Surgery can immobilize and stabilize the fracture when you have:
- Multiple bone fractures
- Loose bone fragments
- A fracture involving the joint
- When the ligaments and tendons are damaged
- Unstable, displaced, or open fractures
- Compound fractures
Finger fracture surgery
The best treatment option for a finger fracture depends on the type and nature of the fracture. An experienced orthopaedic surgeon decides the type of surgical procedure to fix a finger fracture (even a complicated fracture). It is performed under local anaesthesia to minimize discomfort. An orthopaedic surgeon realigns the broken bones in the correct position using pins, screws or wires. In addition, to make sure that the realigned and repositioned bones of the finger heal correctly, the orthopaedic doctor uses a splint or cast. Precise diagnosis and treatment for broken fingers can preserve functions of the hand and prevent deformities. Finger fracture surgery time varies depending on the type and nature of the fracture. Finger fracture surgery cost also varies depending on the type and nature of the fracture.
Finger Fracture Recovery Time
Dr Vasudeva Juvvadi, the best orthopaedic surgeon, says that recovery time for a finger fracture might be a few weeks to months, depending on various factors. He has more than ten years of experience in treating various types of fractures. If you think you have some problems with bones, make a consultation with Dr Vasudeva for treatment.