John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
A finger may be injured by a direct blow or cut. Many injuries are work-related. The finger may also be jammed, twisted, or stretched playing sports. Animal bites are another common cause of finger injuries.
A direct blow to the tip of a finger can cause tendon or ligament damage, as well as fracture or
dislocation of the bones.
If the side ligaments are torn, the patient may have
pain on the side of a joint, and the joint may be loose.
If the ligament on the bottom of the joint (called
the volar plate) is torn,
the patient may have pain and looseness on the underside of the finger.
If a tendon is torn away from its attachment, the patient may be unable to completely bend, straighten, or grip with the finger (or thumb).
Several common kinds of injuries that can result from jamming a finger:
Skier's (gamekeeper's) thumb: Torn ulnar collateral ligament (the ligament between your thumb and
palm in the web space of the thumb and hand), often caused when a skier falls on his or her pole with an open hand.
Mallet (or drop or hammer) finger: Extensor tendon (the tendon that is on the back or "dorsum" of your finger responsible for extending the finger straight) torn away from the distal phalanx (bone in the end of your finger). This causes the tip of your finger to sag and not completely straighten out.
Boutonniere deformity: The stabilizing portion of the extensor tendon (the tendon that is over the backside of your finger) is torn between the proximal and middle phalanx (the closest and middle bones of your finger). This causes the middle of your finger to sag and not straighten all the way.
Swan neck deformity: Volar ligament (ligament on the palm side of your finger responsible for flexing your finger) torn between the proximal and middle phalanx. As this injury heals, the ligament gets lax and the finger bends in a characteristic "swan neck" pattern.
The nail bed, which is the supportive tissue underneath the nail, can be damaged by a cut or blow.
Sometimes this leads to a collection of blood under the nail, called a
Subungual hematomas can be very painful and sometimes need to be drained.
If the nail is severely damaged, it may need to be removed.
Animal bites can cause tissue damage and
also can lead to serious infections if not treated properly.
A human bite would is often more serious than an animal bite would. It usually happens
from punching someone in the mouth with a closed fist (called a "fight bite").
These wounds require thorough cleaning and often antibiotics.
A paronychia is an infection in the area where your fingernail attaches to your finger.
It often starts after minor trauma such as a hangnail or nail biting.