It is common to dislocate a finger while playing a contact sport. For a joint to come out of place, you need to overstretch or tear surrounding structures. To allow a dislocated finger to heal quickly and correctly, and to prevent it from happening on a regular basis, it needs to be treated promptly.
Dislocations at the middle joint of a finger (the PIP Joint) are very common. They can usually be put back into place quite quickly and the joint is generally stable once reduced.
[PLEASE NOTE: Dislocated joints should only ever be relocated by a trained professional, so that no further damage is done! Often the bone can be broken as well as dislocated!]
After a finger has been dislocated, the internal ligaments (the volar plate and at least one collateral ligament) are usually torn. They usually heal without surgery, but they still require treatment from a Physiotherapist. Prior to starting Physiotherapy, you should check the bones via an X-Ray.
Recurrent PIP Joint Dislocations lead to loose ligament and often a deformity at that joint. They may require surgery to reattach of the ligaments! This is why it is important to treat this injury the FIRST TIME you do it.
If the finger is stable after the dislocation and the Physiotherapist checks you don’t have any ligamentous laxity, movement can be commenced. The finger needs to be buddy taped for 2-3 weeks and continued for several months with strenuous activity.
The swelling needs to be controlled with ice and COBAN bandage. This bandage can be obtained from your Physiotherapist. It is thin enough to allow a full range of movement of the finger when applied properly. Only a single layer should be applied. Beware - it is easy to apply the bandage too tightly!
If the finger has an ongoing deformity after the dislocation, it needs to be rested in a splint made by your Physiotherapist and moulded specifically for your finger. You will need to wear this splint for 2-4 weeks full time. During this time you will be taught some exercises that you can do for your finger while wearing the splint. After the 2-4 weeks in the splint, your will start to buddy taping your finger for another 2-3 weeks and continued for several months with strenuous activity.
If you have a pain in your wrist of hand, or if you have recently dislocated your finger, you should see your Physiotherapist. Call us on (02) 4647 3373 to make an appointment.