Your Finger Injury Guide: What They Are and How to Treat Them
October 20th, 2020
Your Finger Injury Guide: What They Are and How to Treat Them
Do you have a finger injury? Don’t let the pain and swelling get worse! This guide will explain common finger injuries and why you need professional help.
You’re biking along a beautiful park trail when—oops!—you take a spill. Luckily, your hand was there to break your fall. Not-so-luckily, your finger took the brunt of it.
If you’ve had a recent finger injury, you may be wondering what kind of wound you have and whether you need to see a professional. Our basic answer is yes.
If you’re concerned about pain, swelling, discomfort, or possible sources of infection, you should get it checked out right away. In some cases, this can help your finger heal in the proper way, so you don’t end up with discomfort later on.
We’ll walk you through some of the most common finger injuries and what to expect when they occur:
A strain is an injury that has to do with your muscles and the connections between them. You might not realize, but a lot of the muscle power driving your finger actions actually comes from your arms!
To see this for yourself, gently hold your forearm with your opposite hand while wiggling the fingers of that forearm. Do you feel something moving? Next, you can squeeze your forearm with your hand and see how your fingers react.
After experiencing a finger-related strain, you might have trouble opening and closing your fingers. You could experience pain, bruising, or difficulty using your fingers. If this is the case for you, hand therapy could go a long way in getting you back on track.
A sprain is similar to a strain, but these terms are not interchangeable. While a strain is an injury to a tendon, a sprain is a ligament-related injury. As a general way to visualize the difference, tendons connect muscle to bone while ligaments connect bone to bone.
So when you’re wondering about a finger sprain, you should think about the bones in your fingers. Sprains can happen if you twist your finger in an unusual way or fall in a way that hurts your hands. While your fingers can help support you, the impact from a fall can place unwelcome pressure on the connective tissue between your bones, causing a sprain.
These events can cause the tissue to stretch or even tear. If you find that the sprain is getting better in a span of a day or so, it might be on its way to healing from a ligament stretch.
If the sprain is more severe, though, you could be dealing with a torn ligament, and you should get help from a professional. And when you’re not sure, it’s better to be on the safe side and call someone who knows what they’re doing.
You might be wondering where the name for this injury comes from. It’s good to know because it will give you a good idea of what kind of event causes it.
Skier’s thumb often occurs when someone falls on a ski pole with an open hand. The injury is a wound to the ligament controlling your thumb’s flexibility, and in severe cases, there may be a tear.
You might need surgery to fix a torn ligament from skier’s thumb. This will help you regain control of your thumb and get your hand’s grasping motion back to normal.
Like skier’s thumb, this injury tells you the main possible cause in the name itself. It is often caused by a force to the tip of the finger from something heavy or fast-moving, like a mallet. This injury can happen in conjunction with some of the other items on this list, like fracture and fingernail injury.
You’ll be able to recognize mallet finger from its characteristic drooped fingertip look.
When something hits your finger and causes the tip to bend too much, it might become hard or impossible to straighten your finger all the way. If this has happened to you, you should get it checked out by a professional.
This is one of the more serious types of finger injury, and it’s a situation where you probably won’t want to let it heal on its own without a professional’s approval. Small finger fractures can and often do heal by themselves, but they might heal in an odd way, leaving you with lower functionality or flexibility in your finger in the end.
This is because the bones in your fingers are in a complex system, working together to perform many of your daily functions. A misalignment in one bone can make tasks like writing and playing sports more difficult than before.
When you see a doctor about a finger fracture, you should do your best to remember exactly what happened to your finger. You’ll likely undergo an X-ray and get some treatment to make sure your finger heals in the proper way.
Finger Injury From an Animal Bite
Animal bites and scratches can cause a variety of injuries, including some on this list. What you’ll need to be extra careful about here is the risk of infection.
The mouth and claws of an animal can carry lots of bacteria and if the injury broke the skin, those bacteria will have an entry point into your body.
You should tend to the wound while also watching out for swelling, pus, fever, or anything else that might indicate an infection. If the animal is one you know, like a pet or a friend’s pet, you should figure out whether that animal was up to date on all its shots. If it was a wild animal, an unfamiliar pet, or a pet who missed certain shots, it’s important to talk to a professional as soon as you can to figure out possible risks.
As a bit of first aid while you’re waiting to see a professional or tending to your wound, you can gently wash away debris around the injury and use an antibacterial ointment.
These can happen in a few ways. If something heavy fell on your fingernail and caused a blood clot underneath the nail, we call this subungual hematoma.
What you do about the blood clot will depend on a few factors, including how much pain it causes you. If there’s only mild pain, you may be able to let it heal on its own. If the pain is severe, though, it may be due to pressure from the clot pressing against your fingernail.
In this case, you could be in danger of losing your fingernail. To prevent this, and to relieve some of the pain and pressure, a doctor might make a tiny hole in the nail for you. This is a process called nail trephination, and it will allow some of the blood to drain from your clot.
Stay Safe out There!
Of course, the best way to keep your hands and fingers healthy is to prevent injury in the first place. But finger accidents happen, and when they do, we’re here to help.
If you or someone you know has a finger injury you’re concerned about, you should speak to a professional today. Here at Nick Roselli Occupational Therapy, we’ll use our years of experience to get you back on track as soon as possible! Request an appointment today, and we’ll work with you to put you on the path to healing.