Fingers are fine structures of the human body which assist in daily routine activities through coordinated movements. Any abnormality affecting the fingers can have a huge impact on quality of life of the patient. A finger fracture is usually a minor injury but if left untreated it may lead to major consequences due to interference with the specialized functions such as grasping or manipulating objects in the palm. A fracture of the finger may disrupt the alignment of whole hand and cause pain and stiffness.
The hand contains approximately 27 small bones. The 8 carpal bones together form the wrist and the 5 metacarpal bones spread out across the palm and join the phalanges of the fingers; the five fingers of each hand comprise of approximately 14 phalanges.
Fracture of the finger may be secondary to a trauma, direct stress to the finger or any injury to the hand such as a fall or motor vehicle accident. Some other common causes of finger fracture include carelessness while using power tools such as a saw or drill and other physical activities such as sports. Patients with a history of osteoporosis are at an increased risk of finger fracture.
The common symptoms of a finger fracture include swelling, tenderness and bruising at the fracture site. The fractured site is tender to touch and any movement of the finger may be difficult along with a physical deformity of the fractured finger.
The diagnosis of finger fracture is based on history, physical examinations and X-ray imaging to determine the type and severity of the fracture. X-rays are the most widely used diagnostic tools for the evaluation of fractures.
The treatment of the fracture is based on the severity and type of fracture as well as the medical condition of the patient.
Non-surgical treatment comprises of immobilizing the fractured finger with the help of casts or braces to prevent weight bearing and to help the healing process. Buddy taping can also be used to support the fractured finger. X-rays are taken at regular intervals to assess the healing process.
Surgical treatment may be required for severe fractures such as open fractures or crush injuries. Pins, screws or wires may be used for repair of the fracture and to realign the bones.
Rehabilitation is essential to avoid complications such as late arthritis. Physical therapy and other exercise regimens are recommended to prevent finger stiffness and swelling and to improve muscle strength and range of motion.