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Broken Finger

Prevention

The best medicine for prevention of finger fractures is safety. Most fingers are broken from machines or sporting injuries. Remember to always use safety equipment when doing activities that may injure your hands. Despite all efforts and precautions, injuries do occur and should be evaluated as soon possible.

Outlook

After reduction, immobilization, and 4-6 weeks of healing, the prognosis for the bones coming together and healing properly is excellent for a broken finger.

  • The most common problem encountered after treatment of fractures in the fingers is joint stiffness. By immobilizing the fingers, the capsule and surrounding tissue form scar around the joint. It becomes a race to heal the bone before the joint becomes too stiff and a decrease in motion occurs.
  • Many people may require physical therapy (preferably a hand therapist) for range of motion exercises. Therefore, stiffness and swelling are of great concern and may be long-term reminders of the injury. It is important to continue therapy and have a positive outlook because range of motion may continue to improve for up to a year.

Multimedia

Media file 1: Broken finger. A severe fracture of the proximal phalanx of the small finger. This bone is broken in many small fragments and very unstable. This injury occurred in an automobile accident but also can be seen in any traumatic incident. Because it is unstable, surgery was needed. In this type of injury, the surgeon may use either pins or plates and screws for repair. The pins would stay in for about 4-6 weeks, and plates and screws would be removed only if bothersome.

Media file 2: Broken finger. This x-ray shows an oblique (diagonal) fracture through the proximal phalanx of the ring finger. Notice how the fracture tends to slip or shorten (arrow). Not only does this fracture shorten, but rotational deformities are also seen. Usually it is not stable enough for just buddy taping, and surgery may be needed.

Media file 3: Broken finger. This x-ray is taken in the operating room after pinning of a fracture similar to the one in picture 2. The x-ray shows how the multiple small pins hold the fracture in anatomic alignment and the shortening is gone. This will maintain stability until the fracture is healed. The pins may be removed in 4-6 weeks.

Media file 4: Broken finger. A typical fracture at the end of the small finger metacarpal is shown in this x-ray. The fragment is most always flexed toward the palm as seen in this x-ray. Most typically this fracture is caused by a closed fist striking an object. This commonly is called a boxer's (or brawler's) fracture. Treatment of this fracture usually is conservative casting. Don't be alarmed by the angulation of the bone. It is usually only cosmetic, and hand function should be normal after the bone heals.

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

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