This common injury occurs when a bone in the finger is forced out of its normal position in the joint. Any of the bones of the finger can become dislocated, but most dislocations occur at the middle joint. The bone may be displaced to the side, top, or bottom of the involved joint. Adjacent tissues that stabilize the joint can often be severely injured by a joint dislocation.
Finger dislocations are caused by trauma that jams or bends the finger past its normal range of motion. Sports injuries, bike accidents, and falls onto an outstretched hand are scenarios that commonly cause finger dislocations.
The primary symptoms of a finger dislocation are pain and a visible deformity of the finger. The finger may be bent at an odd, unnatural angle, and typically cannot be moved. Other symptoms may include swelling and numbness. In some cases, the skin may be torn and the bone or joint exposed.
In order to assess the position of the bones, x-rays will be taken. X-rays are especially important after the finger is realigned to confirm that the finger has been realigned properly. An MRI may be needed to check for other injuries.
A finger dislocation is typically treated in an emergency room with closed reduction (in which the joint is put back into proper alignment), and splinting. Because of the complexity of these injuries, a person with a finger dislocation should be evaluated by a hand surgeon to ensure the proper course of treatment. Even simple dislocations can result in permanent finger stiffness and dysfunction without proper care. After evaluation by a hand surgeon, the finger may be splinted or taped to an adjacent finger. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to wash out a contaminated joint or repair damaged ligaments or tendons. Hand therapy is often needed after a dislocation to treat finger stiffness, a common development.
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