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What is a finger fracture?
The finger is made up of bones known as phalanges, with three of these in each finger and two in each thumb. A finger fracture is when one or more of these bones breaks. There are different types of finger fracture. An avulsion fracture is when a ligament/tendon and bone fragment it’s attached to, pulls away from the main bone. An impacted fracture sees the broken ends of a bone impact with each other, while a shear fracture sees the phone split in two, moving in opposite directions.
A finger fracture is caused by accidents and injuries, such as a fall onto an outstretched hand. Other scenarios that can include being hit in the hand by a fast moving object, or catching your fingers in a door.
Symptoms of a swollen finger include:
- Stiffness in the affected area
- Pain, bruising and swelling
- Abnormalities such as the finger pointing in an unnatural or unusual direction
In worse cases, fragments of the broken bone can protrude through the skin, creating a wound and becoming known as an “open fracture”. However, if the fracture isn’t visually obvious, it can be quite difficult to identify if it’s actually a fracture, or something else such as a dislocation or sprain. Diagnosis can be performed with an X-ray.
To treat a broken finger, the fractured bone will first be moved back into its correct position under local anaesthetic, and will then be placed in a splint or cast, and possibly strapped to the finger next to it to ensure it remains in place while healing.
Surgery may sometimes be required, in especially severe cases which has resulted in damage to surrounding nerves and tendons. Surgery can also involve the use of plates, screws and wires to fix the bone, but again, this is in rare and very severe cases.