Digit Damage: Four Common Finger Injuries
1. Mallet finger is usually caused by a direct blow to the tip of the finger, common in sports such as netball. It causes the tendon to rupture from its attachment below the nail. It can be managed with a custom splint that immobilises the tip of the finger for 6-8 weeks. This usually allows the tendon to heal without requiring surgery.
2. Nail Bed or Crush injury typically occurs when a finger is trapped in a tight space - a door jam for instance. They can often involve bone fracture, skin cuts, tendon, nerve and blood vessel damage. Treatment includes relieving pressure of the bleeding under the nail, compression gloves, wound care and dressings. Scar tissue management also helps to prevent contractures or stiffness that may limit function. Movement can be regained with splints, even several years after the injury.
3. Goalkeeper's thumb injury, to the base of the thumb where it meets the palm, is the most common of all ligament tears. It is typically caused by falling on an outstretched hand, and pulling the thumb backwards. Splinting for 6-8 weeks will usually allow the thumb to heal without the need for surgery. In severe cases where the ligament is ruptured, it can be surgically reconstructed.
4. Trigger finger is the common name for swelling of the tendons that control finger bending, preventing them from gliding smoothly, and causing pain, popping, or a catching feeling. Non-surgical treatments are attempted first to reduce the swelling: splints, anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections, and adjustments in daily activities. If these are unsuccsessful, surgery may be recommended.