What is a Dislocated finger?
A dislocation is when the two bones that form a joint shift away from each other where one bone can ‘pop’ out of joint (ball-and-socket type joint). If it is a finger, one bone shifts off the saddle-type joint it is normally sitting in. A joint can dislocate and immediately ‘go back in’ or it can remain out of place.
The amount of soft tissue damage to the supporting structures around a joint varies with every injury, and how many times it has happened before. Dislocations may be can be one-off situation but may reoccur due to the soft tissues around the joint becoming stretched out because of previous injuries. If you dislocate your finger it may be sore and swollen for a period of time but this depends on the level of injury and the treatment applied.
What causes a dislocation?
A finger dislocation happens when the finger is either bent too far back or bent forwards quickly with a lot of force.
How do I know if I have dislocated my finger?
Your finger may be dislocated if it is quite painful, it may also appear short or misshapen and it should feel as though something needs to go back into place. Your finger may be swollen around the middle joint and tender on the palm side and tender when the finger gets pushed straight. You may find some activities difficult to complete. It is advisable that you get it checked out if it is still sore after a few days. An X-ray may be used to determine the injury.
How can physiotherapy help with dislocated fingers?
Your physiotherapist will assess how much support and exercise you will need to ensure to heal correctly. Splinting will be used to ensure the bone is positioned correctly. Exercises will be shown to you to allow you to regain full movement.
How effective is physiotherapy for dislocated fingers?
Physiotherapy is effective for dislocated finger as physiotherapists are able to give you a personal plan including exercises and splinting to ensure your finger regains strength and stability.
What can I do at home?
It is recommended that splinting or taping is used as guided by your physiotherapist that will ensure that you achieve a good result. Before exercising ask your physiotherapist, they will provide you with correct exercises to suit your needs to return to activity and sport are essential to improve movement and strength.
How long until I feel better?
Once your finger is correctly strapped or splinted it should resolve the pain and movement should improve in the first week. Mild injuries can recover in days to weeks whilst more severe injuries could take up to 6 weeks of treatment and may take longer to regain full strength. In the long term, this should not affect any movement or strength in your finger.
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Reference: Australian Physiotherapy Association 2019, Your Body, viewed 19 November 2019, < https://australian.physio/>.