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How to manage a finger dislocation during your game

With Netball and Football season back into full swing, we see an increase in sport related finger injuries. But do you know what to do if it happens to you, a team mate or your child?

A finger dislocation occurs when an external force, often a ball or opposition player, forces the finger to go beyond its normal limits. The joint dislocates when the joint surfaces are no longer in contact with each other. This causes internal structures to be stretched, torn or even break. The structures within a finger joint that may be damaged during a dislocation includes the collateral ligaments (either side of the joint that provide side to side stability), the volar plate (a thick ligament that aims to prevent hyperextension), the central slip (the attachment point of the muscle that straighten our finger), the joint capsule and the surrounding bones.

When you suffer a finger dislocation, the first instinct can be to relocate the joint immediately… however we would recommend that you don’t do this. If the bone is broken, or a chip of bone came off during the dislocation, relocating the joint without medical advice can make the fracture worse. If you dislocate you finger, it is recommended that you organise to have an x-ray and allow a trained health professional to relocate the joint safely for you.

Immediately following a finger dislocation, you may find that your finger is swollen and painful. You may no longer have full movement of the finger or the joint may feel like it will dislocate again when you move it.

The management and recovery time frames following a finger dislocation will vary depending on which structures you damaged during the injury. Your doctor may send you for an x-ray or ultrasound to assess the internal structures around the joint. A Hand Therapist is trained to perform a thorough assessment to determine your best treatment plan.

We can help you to regain your movement, prevent further injury and allow you a timely return to sport. Hand therapy can include splinting, education, pain relieving strategies, taping, range of motion, stretching and strengthening exercises. Full movement of the finger may be limited to start with, but will improve with the correct treatment.

We work closely with people who experience injuries in their hands and wrists. If you need further advice, please feel free to contact us on 02 6925 0157 or


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