A finger dislocation refers to an injury to the joint of the the finger bones where the joint separates and bones moved apart, malaligned. Most of the time, dislocation in finger joints happen when the finger is over-bent backwards or sidewards beyond the normal maximum range of motion.
Our hands and fingers are very nimble and flexible because of multiple small bones and joints for every single finger...and unfortunately also, every joint can be injured and dislocated with force.
When a patient dislocates his or her finger, it's often:
If the dislocation happened during a game on-field and "fixed" on the spot, the patient may feel that their finger is:
If left untreated or to heal "naturally" without intervention, patients usually end up with a very stiff finger with difficulty using as usual (difficulty bending and straigthening) - this is due to the scar tissues inside that needs to be managed by a hand therapist.
Your doctor will suspect that your finger is dislocated if it appears swollen and deformed.
In some cases, your doctor may order an X-ray of your finger if he or she suspects that there is also fractures together with the dislocation. What happens when there is a combination of BOTH fracture and dislocation, the finger bone can end up being pulled away from connected tendons.
This is a is common occurrence for a fragment of bone to separate from the main bone and stay with the tendon, a condition known as an avulsion fracture.
Usually, you can return to work, life, responsibilities and sport once your dislocated finger has been realigned and stable, and following a confirmation from your doctor that the injured joint is stable with no presence of bone fracture, and your finger tenderness and swelling have improved.
For a few weeks, you will need to wear a customized finger splint or buddy tape, which is used to protect, support and strap the injured finger.
If your finger dislocation is severe and you end up requiring to repair your dislocated finger, it'd conservatively take a good 6-12 weeks for soft tissue (such as ligaments) to heal and strengthen before you can return to normal movement and a little longer for sports. Post injury/operatively, you'd need to start hand therapy to manage and prevent finger stiffness, which will be your #1 challenge to get back full range of motion and function in your finger.
Once we have resolved and treated your finger dislocation, there are some preventative things you can do to prevent your finger from future dislocation. You can:
Speak to our senior hand therapists to see which preventative options are best suited for you.
A simple dislocated finger can be corrected with or without injecting local anesthesia (sometimes adrenaline is enough that you may not feel pain or realize it).
To correct the dislocation, the doctor will press against the displaced bone to loosen and dislodge the bone if it is an awkward position eg side of the joint. Once the end of the bone is freed, the doctor will pull outward and release the bone to restore the bone to its correct position (termed as closed reduction).
Once your finger joint is back in its normal position, you
will wear a splint or tape the finger to another finger for three to six weeks,
depending on the specific type of your dislocation, then commence on hand therapy after weeks 4-6, once the doctor has determined that your injury is stabilized.
However, what happens if the
doctor cannot straighten your finger using closed reduction or if you and the doctor realize that your injured
joint is not stable after closed reduction, then your dislocated finger may need to
be repaired surgically.
You should call your doctor immediately if you had injured your finger and you find that your finger is
You can also contact us if you have the symptoms above, but feel that you don't have a fracture - our senior hand therapist can assess and treat you first, or if we find that you need a hand surgeon or orthopedic surgeon, we can refer you direct as well.
If you are an athlete when you experienced the finger dislocation, and you had someone straighten/relocate your injured finger on the field, please check with your doctor or your on-site physiotherapist to make sure that the injured joint is stable and with no fractures.
A dislocated joint that has an open wound should not be moved at all. It should be carefully splinted and evaluated immediately by a physician.
Your biggest challenge following a finger dislocation is decreased range of motion and ongoing battle with stiffness. If left unmanaged and to "heal naturally", you may end up with a very stiff finger with decreased movement, decreased function and decreased strength.
Regular and early hand therapy, which will include
and ultimately restore your joint to full movement and function. The earlier you come for hand therapy, the better the outcome, movement and function-wise.