Having recently tested just how far back the human fingers can bend…with expected results, I thought I would write a post on hand injuries in Sports.
Hand and wrist injuries account for approximately 15% of injuries that present to sports clinics. This is not surprising once you break down just how many components make up the human hand.
For starters, there are 27 major bones, 17 joints, at least 123 named ligaments, 34 muscles which move the fingers and thumb, 48 named nerves and 30 named arteries. In other words, there is a lot that can go wrong here…
There are just too many specific hand and wrist conditions (Carpal tunnel syndrome, De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, Scaphoid fractures etc.) to cover in one post, however I would like to discuss a bit more on finger injuries.
In sports we commonly see injuries to the fingers that involve either forced flexion (such as a ball hitting the point of the finger-Mallet finger), or forced extension (such as the finger being bent backwards further than normal-Jersey Finger). Both these injuries could cause damage to either the ligaments, tendons or even the bones of the hand.
“Jammed finger” occur when the finger is twisted sideways, disrupting the collateral ligament (on either side of the joint). When this occurs in the thumb, it is referred to as “Goalkeepers Thumb”.
So what should you do if you injure your finger playing sport?
Immediately following the injury, try applying the PRICER regime (see our post on Acute Injury Management-6 Oct 2010). Application of compression bandages (from the tip of the finger downwards) and ice should help reduce/minimise the extent of swelling. Where possible, “buddy-strap” your injured finger to the finger next to it thus reducing movement of the injured finger.
If you have dislocated your finger, seek immediate medical attention as trying to put it back yourself may cause more harm than good.
It is advisable to go see your Physiotherapist or Sports Physician within 24-48hrs after injury, as some injuries require urgent attention. They will assess the extent of your injury and will probably send you for x-rays to rule out fractures.
Lastly, make sure you follow through on your rehabilitation! Finger injuries that are not treated correctly can become chronically painful and stiff. You will only appreciate how important your fingers are once you can’t use them…trust me, I know…