Dr. Haber on Upper Extremity Injury

Sports injuries occur often to children and adults. “Jammed fingers” may just be a ligament sprain on one of the sides of a finger joint, and these will heal over time similarly to a sprained ankle. Frequently however, the “jammed finger” may be a broken or a fractured phalanx. And yes, those two words do mean the same thing. If the fracture is in to the joint (intra-articular), then the magnitude of injury is escalated. The repair of these fractures frequently requires surgery, and the first 7- 10 days is the best window for maximizing the final outcome. The take home message is that these “jammed fingers” mandate an X-ray early in the course of injury. If it is just a sprain, a brief course of therapy overseen by a Hand Surgeon will return your athlete to sports in the best manner.

Wrist injuries are somewhat similar. There is a small bone on the thumb side of the wrist called the scaphoid or the navicular bone. It frequently is injured when an athlete falls on an out-stretched wrist. There will be swelling and limited, painful wrist motion. Unfortunately, this fracture does NOT show up on many wrist X-rays. Your Hand Surgeon is well aware of this, and a special radio graphic study should be performed. You may ask why a small fracture that is not easily found on X-ray is even worrisome? Well, the scaphoid has a very poor capacity to heal due to its weak blood supply. A simple non-displaced fracture evolves into a gap in the bone as areas near the fracture line absorb bone. One end of the bone may become avascular, the healing potential and return to full motion, may be lost. The answer is to find these fractures early and get them healed, which will not happen with continued use. These injuries are career changing if unfound.

The answer for finger and wrist injuries is an early visit with a Hand Specialist.

To visit a Hand Specialist at TOCA call: 602-277-6211

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