Facts on Finger Injuries
Finger injuries are common and range from minor cuts and scrapes to wounds with major damage to bone, tendons, and ligaments. If not treated properly, serious finger injuries can lead to permanent deformity and loss of function. Careful treatment allows for a faster and more complete recovery. Many different types of finger injuries are common:
A laceration (cut) may only go through skin, or it may cut through blood vessels, nerves, and tendons that lie just under the skin.
An avulsion occurs when part of the skin or soft tissue is torn off.
With an amputation, tissue is completely cut or torn away from the finger.
- The fingernail and the underlying nail bed are the most commonly injured part of the hand.
- If a fingernail is injured by a direct blow, the underlying bone may also be broken.
Fractures (broken finger bone)
- Each finger (except the thumb) has three bones, or phalanges: the proximal (closest) phalanx (plural-phalanges), the middle phalanx, and the distal (furthest) phalanx.
- A fracture of a phalanx may be an isolated injury, but it is often associated with injury to tendons, ligaments, fingernails, or other soft tissue.
- A dislocation is an injury to a joint that causes a bone to move out of its normal alignment with another bone.
- Finger dislocations commonly happen as a result of a direct blow to the finger (like while playing ball sports).
- Usually a dislocation causes damage to the surrounding ligaments (ligaments hold bone to bone), which are stretched and remain damaged even after the dislocation is reduced (put back in place).
Ligament injuries (sprains)
- Ligaments are the tough tissues that hold two bones together and stabilize a joint.
- A ligament may be torn by a forceful stretch or blow, leaving the joint unstable and prone to further injury.
- Tendons are the fibrous bands that attach muscles to bones and allow the flexible, precise movements of the joints.
- Tendons lie just under the skin in the fingers and are covered by a protective sheath.
- Both the tendon and its sheath can be damaged by a laceration (cut) or a crush injury.
- A tendon can also be torn away from its bony attachment, which is called an avulsion fracture.
- Sensation to the finger is supplied by four nerves, two (dorsal and volar digital nerves) running along each side of the finger.
- Damaging the nerve can cause numbness on the side of the finger supplied by the nerve.
Last Reviewed 11/20/2017
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