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Central slip injury

What is Central Slip Injury?

It is possible that you could have a central slip injury if the middle knuckle of your finger is bent, this occurs when an vital ligament called central slip, located on the back of your finger, in which breaks therefore making it difficult to straighten. This will worsen over a period of time making it harder to straighten. Central slip injury will need proper treatment to ensure that it does not progressively worsen.

What causes a central slip injury?

Central slip injuries are caused when the middle knuckle of the finger (proximal interphalangeal joint) is forcibly bent forwards. Sometimes this occurs when the finger punches something, is hit by a ball or is knocked forcefully. This also may happen to people with rheumatoid arthritis without any trauma.

How do I know if I have a central slip injury to my finger?

You may have a central slip injury if you have difficultly straightening your finger, it also may be sore and swollen.  It may not be obvious or noticeable at the time of injury but will worsen in the following weeks. An X-ray may be used to ensure there is no broken bones.

How can physiotherapy help with central slip injuries?

The central slip needs to be splinted with the joint held out completely straight to heal properly. This will ensure it is positioned properly and is in a constant position for up to 6 weeks. You may need a second splint if finger has already become stiff and you’re unable to straighten the finger fully with the other hand because the injury is a few days’ or weeks’ old. Once this is healed your physiotherapist will access how much support and exercise is needed to restore your finger.

Can I do anything to help myself at home?

Since your injury will be in a splint it is important to avoid any bending whilst it heals. Your physiotherapist will be able to show you appropriate techniques on how to splint or tape your finger correctly to achieve a good result.

How long until I am recovered?

Pain should resolve as soon as the finger is appropriately splinted. You will be able to return to normal activities when whilst your wearing the splint. Depending upon the how severe the injury is, a mild central slip tear may recover within weeks of treatment whilst more severe injuries may take up to 6 weeks of constant splinting and may take 2–3 months to achieve 80­–90 per cent strength.

If you would like to find out more please call us or book an appointment here.

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Reference: Australian Physiotherapy Association 2019, Your Body, viewed 19 November 2019, < https://australian.physio/>.