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