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Finger Sprain

FINGER SPRAIN

Finger sprains are caused by violent overstretching and tearing of one or more ligaments involving the finger joints. Sprains involving two or more ligaments are worse than a single-ligament sprain. Sprains are classified into three grades: In a first-degree sprain the ligament is not lengthened but is painful. With a second-degree sprain, the ligament is stretched or a portion of the ligament is ruptured. With a third-degree sprain, the ligament is completely torn and does not function. If the sprain is a first-time injury, proper care and sufficient healing time before resuming activity can prevent permanent disability. Ligaments have poor blood supply and require as much healing time than simple muscle strains. Average healing time for a first-degree sprain is 2 to 6 weeks; a second-degree sprain is 8 to 12 weeks; and a third-degree sprain takes up to 12 to 16 weeks, although swelling of the finger may last up to 1 year.

Signs and Symptoms

Risks

Possible Complications

Treatment

Initial treatment consists of rest, ice, compressive bandage and elevation to reduce swelling and discomfort. Taping (such as buddy taping the injured finger to the one next to it), casting, splinting, or bracing may be recommended to provide support to the joint for varying lengths of time depending on severity and location of the injury.

The initial phase of rest, ice, and elevation is followed by a graduated program of stretching and strengthening. It is especially important to concentrate on increasing the endurance of the injured area muscles and supporting muscles to help prevent future injury. One often neglected part of rehabilitation involves re-training proprioception in the injured area. This has also been shown to help reduce the incidence of re-injury. An athletic trainer or physical therapist is often very helpful during this phase of treatment.

 

Topical ointments or liniments may be beneficial. Injections of corticosteroids may be given to reduce inflammation.

 

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (such as aspirin and ibuprofen) or other minor pain relievers (such as acetaminophen) may be recommended. Take these medications only as directed by your physician. Contact your physician if any bleeding, stomach upset, black tarry stools, or signs of an allergic reaction occur. Many believe that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) help reduce pain and inflammation. However, there is some evidence that certain subtypes of NSAIDS can impair ligament healing. Because of this, some experts will prescribe only certain NSAIDS or even simple analgesics like acetaminophen. Some will avoid all NSAIDS when treating a ligament injury.

After immobilization, stretching and strengthening of the injured and weakened joint and surrounding muscles is often necessary. Surgical treatment is rarely needed, except in specific instances with a third-degree sprain or with associated injury. Taping may help avoid further injury when returning to sports. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (such as aspirin and ibuprofen) or other minor pain relievers (such as acetaminophen) are often recommended. Take medication only as directed by your physician. Contact your physician if any bleeding, stomach upset, black tarry stools, or signs of an allergic reaction occur. Pain relievers may be prescribed as necessary by your physician. Use only as directed. Cold is used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation for acute and chronic cases. Cold should be applied for 20 minutes 4 times daily.