We have been seeing a lot of finger fractures and sprains as of late. Here is my list of finger facts that you may find useful if you ever have to deal with a finger trauma and subsequent rehabilitation.
1. Don’t panic
If your finger is crushed, jammed, sliced, slammed, or otherwise traumatized, in all probability you are not going to die. Many people tend to panic immediately following a finger injury, more so than if they traumatize ankles, knees, hips, and other joints. The hands are a major source of sensory input and are vital for manipulating objects in our everyday lives. It is understandable for people to feel a sudden sense of dread in losing functional usage. Try to relax.
2. Take a quick assessment
Can you both bend and straighten your finger? If you can, your tendons are working and all of the support structures are probably functioning well.
3. Expect swelling
Fingers tend to swell a lot when they are traumatized. Unfortunately this swelling can take a very, very long time to go away. Fingers are notoriously slow to drain: it is not uncommon to see a traumatized finger swollen six months to a year after the actual incident. You can speed the process along through guidance from a physical therapist or occupational therapist.
4. Do you need an X-ray?
If there is significant bruising, swelling, and pain, it is worthwhile to get an evaluation and X-ray to be safe.
5. Use your finger once you’re able
Once the acute phase of your injury is passed, AND with your doctor’s permission, start using your hand again! I have seen far too many people who develop excessive stiffness and hypersensitivity, simply because they are “babying” the injured finger. You do not want to end up with a finger that is stuck in one position. Use it or lose its function.