Hand surgeon Thomas R. Boyce, MD discusses why your fingers may be stiff and how to treat them.
Stiff fingers can be very troublesome. Your hands and fingers are vital tools with which you interact with the world. Without normal use of your hands and fingers, activities including household tasks, work, hobbies, and sports all can become more difficult.
If you’ve suffered an injury, are recovering from surgery or are living with a condition that affects your hands, chances are you’ve seen a hand therapist or have received instructions to do so by your hand surgeon. Hand therapists are essential to helping patients recover from injuries or surgeries and can help those in pain get back to living a normal life. Hand therapists and hand surgeons often work closely together to determine the best outcome for their patients.
Swollen fingers can develop for a variety of reasons, including a medical condition such as arthritis, an injury such as a broken bone, or even a hot day. It’s the body’s natural healing response to extra fluid and blood in the fingers and can cause you to feel uncomfortable and/or unable to completely move your fingers. While it can sometimes be painful, swollen fingers are common and can be treated right at home.
Try these methods for reducing swelling in your fingers:
Fingertips have several parts, all with special purposes. At the core is the bone, called the distal
phalanx, which provides support and shape to the end of the finger. On the top and bottom of the bone are tendons
that attach to the bone and make it move.
On the top rests the nail, supported by the specialized nail bed skin
just below. The rest of the fingertip is
covered by skin that has lots of nerves, which give fingertips their
Are fingertip injuries
common? How do they happen?
Fingertips are one of the most commonly injured body parts, and
injuries can happen lots of different ways.
Two common ways are cuts, such as from a knife, or crush injuries, such
as getting caught in a car door or under a heavy object.
A Boutonnière deformity is when the finger or thumb is bent down at the middle joint and bent backwards at the end joint (see photo above). This deformity can happen for a couple of different reasons, including:
These two reasons are what can cause the middle joint to bend down. The backwards bending of the end joint is caused after the middle joint bends because there is more pull on the end joint of the finger.
A mallet finger involves injury to the tendon that straightens the tip of the finger. This type of injury can occur when the tip of the finger is jammed, forcing it to bend quickly and forcefully. Banging the tip of the finger while doing everyday tasks or having a ball hit the end of the finger while playing sports are common ways this injury can occur. The forceful bending causes a tear in the tendon or a small piece of bone can break off along with the tendon.
This injury can cause pain and swelling. Along with the pain and swelling, the tip of the finger rests in a bent position and the person is not able to straighten it. There may be bruising after this type of injury as well.
A mallet finger injury is most often treated with a small finger splint that keeps the tip of the finger straight. Keeping the tip of the finger straight for up to eight weeks allows the tendon to heal. The small splint can be provided by the doctor or can be custom made by a hand therapist.
Trigger finger is a condition that can cause discomfort at the base of the finger or thumb, right where the finger joins the palm. Officially known as stenosing tenosynovitis, trigger finger can also be referred to as “trigger thumb.” This condition involves the tendons that bend the fingers. These tendons normally glide easily with the help of pulleys, which hold the tendons close to the bone. In individuals with trigger finger, the pulley becomes too thick, making it difficult for the tendon to glide.
Here are five signs that you may have trigger finger:
Pain/discomfort at the base of the finger or thumb
Hangnails can make any grown man wince. They’re pesky, and even though they’re so small, they can hurt like hell.
“Most people don’t notice a hangnail until after it has fully developed and they feel roughness around the nail or pain from inflammation,” says Benjamin J. Jacobs, M.D., hand surgeon at Rebound Orthopedics and Neurosurgery in Portland, Oregon.
But they happen to everyone, and they can be particularly bad in winter months. But here’s how to prevent hangnails from happening and the best ways treat the ones that already exist.
The HandCare Blog is managed by the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, the oldest and most prestigious medical specialty society dedicated to the hand and upper extremity. Visit www.HandCare.org for more information about conditions, injuries and treatment of the hand, arm, elbow and shoulder.