Hand Dislocation: What Is It and What Do I Do About It?

What is a dislocation?

Dislocations of hand or finger joints are common injuries from athletics, working around the home, or simple accidental falls. There are more than 30 different joints between the wrist, hand, and fingers so plenty of areas that can be disrupted. A dislocation is when two bones that normally meet up together, get injured in a way that causes one bone to no longer be attached to the other bone.  These injuries are typically painful and cause the portion of the hand or finger to not move correctly or even at all.  If not recognized and treated appropriately, these injuries can have serious long-term complications for the use of your hand.

Many injures can cause dislocations.  They can happen from jamming your finger in a basketball game, slamming your hand against a ski pole during a crash, or slipping on some wet pavement outside the grocery store and landing on your hand awkwardly.  These injuries are typically pretty noticeable with swelling, bruising, or even an appearance of your finger turned at an angle. 

What do I do about it?

Hand dislocations are typically treated with an X-ray and then a “closed reduction” initially.  A closed reduction is the term we use for “putting it back in place” (that’s the reduction part) and in a way that doesn’t require any skin incision (that’s the closed part).  Many times, this can be done with numbing medicine to the finger or part of the hand followed by one of our specialists performing the procedure.  Some dislocations are simply treated with that closed reduction procedure followed by various types of specialized splints and therapy.  Each specific joint in the hand and style of dislocation is treated differently.  There are some types of dislocations that after “put back in place”, need surgery to fix structures that need to stabilize the joint so it doesn’t dislocate again in the future or cause other problems.  Our specialists at The Hand Center, have the expertise to identify and treat these complex injuries.

Do dislocations need surgery?

Yes, sometimes dislocations need surgery.  Surgery can be the treatment answer if the dislocation will not go back into place without opening up the joint surgically.  It can also be the answer for treatment if a ligament tear (ligaments are the soft tissue structures that link one bone to the next bone in a joint) is one in which will not heal properly unless repaired directly with surgery. 

If you have a hand injury and think you have a dislocation, don’t hesitate to call us here at The Hand Center anytime to get an appointment. We offer same-day appointments, no problem!

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