While most people think a broken finger and thumb is not a big deal, these fractures can cause major problems if not addressed in a timely manner. The bones in the hand line up precisely, which is necessary for the hands to function properly. A fracture in a finger or thumb can throw this alignment off, causing a disruption in hand function, stiffness, and pain.
Anatomy of the Fingers and Thumbs
The hand contains 27 bones. Fourteen of these bones are located in the fingers. Two of them are located in the thumb. All of these are called phalanges. The phalanges connect to the rest of the hand and the wrist at the metacarpals.
Cause of Finger and Thumb Fractures
Fractures to the hand digits are often the result of direct stress to the finger or thumb, or, an injury to the hand. Common causes of thumb and finger fractures include:
- Power tool or physical labor-related injury: as in when working with power saws, drills, and other tools.
- Slamming a digit in a door
- Jamming a finger or thumb
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sports injuries
Furthermore, patients with a history of bone disease, including osteoporosis, and/or calcium deficiency are at an increased risk of suffering finger or thumb fractures.
Types of Thumb Fractures
Fractures of the thumb can include Bennett and Rolando fractures, where the fracture occurs at the base of the thumb in the joint between the thumb’s metacarpal bone and the wrist-bone. Finger and thumb fractures at the joints are more difficult to treat and have a higher risk of complications.
- Inability to move the finger or thumb
- Deformity of the finger or thumb
Diagnosis of a Fractured Finger or Thumb
Finger and thumb bones can break in a number of different ways and at different locations. A doctor will often perform a physical examination and perform diagnostic tests (such as x-ray) to determine the nature and extent of the fracture. It helps to be detailed in your explanation of your accident and injury when speaking with your doctor.
Finger and thumb bones can break in a number of ways. They can break straight across the bone, in a spiral, into several pieces, or shatter completely. The type of break, among other factors, will often determine the nature of treatment.
Treatment of Finger and Thumb Fractures
Finger and thumb fractures can be treated either surgically or non-surgically.
With non-surgical treatment, a doctor will set the bone back into place and either put a cast or a splint on the affected hand. This immobilization will give the finger or thumb an opportunity to heal in the right position. A splint for a broken finger or thumb is often worn for an average of 3 weeks. At the end of this period, a doctor may take follow-up x-rays to make sure the bone is healing properly.
With more serious fractures, such as open or crush fractures, surgery may be required to stabilize the fractured bones with pins, screws, or wires. While finger and thumb surgery is usually successful, infection, tenderness, and risk of later arthritis, are possible complications. Following immobilization and/or surgery, physical therapy exercises can be used to increase strength and range of motion in the injured finger or thumb.
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If you or a loved one have fractured a finger or a thumb due to the negligence of another party, our New York and New Jersey orthopedic injury attorneys can help you seek the compensation you deserve. Fill our our contact form or call us at (800)-400-8182 for a FREE initial case review.