In any ball sports finger injuries are extremely common. Cricket is the current in season contributor, however sports such as netball and footy pose the same risks. You’re down at the oval and cop a whack to the finger, its painful, swells up and maybe bruises a bit as well. You can’t move it well and this can last a few weeks/months. Nearly everyone can relate to this experience, however it is important to understand that structures within the hand are extremely complex and require the correct treatment when injured to ensure their range of motion and strength remains adequate.
The most commonly injured joint in the finger is known as the proximal interphalangeal joint, the joint just past your knuckles towards the tips of your fingers. Whilst it may be seen as just “a jarred finger,” injuries at this joint can have lasting effects and cause problems later on in life. Simple activities such as straightening your fingers, making a full fist, holding tools or getting change out of your pocket can quickly become impossible down the track if finger injuries are not treated properly.
Injuries (“jarred” finger) at this joint regularly cause damage to the ligaments, causing instability, allowing the bones to move further than they are designed to. The bones themselves and tendons are integral in allowing fingers to flex and extend and can also be damaged in the ‘jarring’ process.
These injuries are important to get assessed appropriately by a practitioner with experience in hand therapy to ensure the symptoms resolve quickly, allowing you to get back to sport and life as quickly as possible. A clinician with experience in hand therapy can determine the injured structures and plan the best treatment. This is likely to include compression for swelling management, a splint to allow the injured tissues to heal and exercises to regain full movement.
Significant injuries in the finger are common and can on occasion require surgery. Dismissing finger injuries as just “a jarred finger” can lead to a lifetime of pain and disability through reduced range of motion, weakness and the potential for early onset osteoarthritis.
These injuries can be time sensitive so it is important not to take the “wait and see approach”.Get in early to achieve the best outcome, and get back to moving well, feeling well and performing well as soon as possible.