When Is The Right Time To Return To Sport Following A Finger Dislocation?
Hand injuries can be frustrating, especially when you’re forced to miss out on the activities you love. For athletes, we know you want to get back to the game as soon as possible, but rushing back into the game following a finger dislocation can put you at a higher risk of unstable joints and dislocating again.
So, how do you know when it’s safe to return to sport following a finger dislocation?
Why It’s Important to Heal a Finger Dislocation
A finger dislocation can occur when an external load (such as a ball or another player) forces the finger to move beyond its normal limits, they’re extremely common in sports in which a ball is used. The dislocation can occur in any finger joint; however, finger dislocations are most common in the middle joint of the little, middle and index fingers. Commonly, dislocations cause internal components of the finger to stretch, tear or even break.
If a player returns to the game before the finger has healed properly, they are at risk of:
- Another dislocation
- Unstable joint
- Chronic pain
- Immobility due to swelling
- Scar tissue build up
- Finger deformities
How to Heal a Finger Dislocation
Following a dislocation, the joint becomes unstable, painful, swollen and often stiff. Hand therapy is an important treatment protocol to help the finger heal in the right position. Treatment may include splitting, pain management, range of motion, and a variety of stretching and strengthening exercises. In addition, a hand therapy practitioner will educate the patient on safe home exercises and guidance on how to safely return to sport.
“How Long Until I Can Play Again?”
Typically a period of immobilization supported by a splint for up to six weeks is recommended. Most patients recover full function following a course of conservative care that includes hand therapy, to strengthen and stabilize the fingers. If the patient requires surgery to repair their dislocated finger, therapy will be needed for the quickest and safest return to your sport.
A player can typically return to their activity when they are:
- Pain-free at rest.
- Pain-free with movement.
- Demonstrate full finger range of motion.
- Finger swelling or tenderness is mild.
- The injured joint is stable.
Get Treatment from a Certified Hand Therapist
If you think that you or your child may have dislocated a finger, hand therapy interventions may ease your pain while also preventing future injuries. Have a certified hand therapist assess and treat your condition before it becomes a bigger problem down the road.
At Twin Boro, we have close to thirty convenient clinics throughout New Jersey with specialized hand therapy locations in Bridgewater, Jersey City, Newark, Red Bank, Sayreville, Toms River, Westfield, Montclair, Nutley, and Edison (coming soon). If these are inconvenient for you, contact the Twin Boro location near you to learn of their ability to assist you with care for a finger injury.
To locate the closest physical therapy clinic near you, visit the Twin Boro Find a Location directory to search by the ZIP code.