Hand Injuries

As an athlete, your hands are a crucial — and delicate — component of your performance. So when you’re sidelined with an injury like a jammed finger or a stretched tendon, it can be frustrating and painful experience. At Henry Ford, our board-certified sports medicine physicians and orthopedic surgeons are dedicated to healing your hand injury with the most reliable and innovative treatments, from state-of-the-art physically therapies to minimally invasive surgeries designed to get you back on track as quickly and as safely as possible.

Common hand injuries

  • Jammed finger

    A common occurrence in ball sports, a jammed finger occurs when something smashes against the tip of your finger, resulting in stretched or torn ligaments.

    Symptoms

    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Difficulty bending the finger

    Average recovery time

    As tolerated.

  • Finger dislocation

    Dislocation occurs when the bone of a finger is moved from its normal anatomical position.

    Symptoms

    • Visible displacement (i.e., a crooked finger), most common at middle joint of finger

    Average recovery time

    At doctor’s discretion.

  • Tendon tear “Jersey Finger”

    Jersey Finger is an injury to an athlete’s flexor tendon, which often occurs after a player has reached for an opponent’s jersey, causing the tendon to rupture.

    Symptoms

    • Unable to flex the joint at fingertip, most commonly seen in ring finger
    • Injured finger remains straightened while others are slightly flexed

    Average recovery time

    A few weeks to a few months, often after surgery.

  • Skier’s thumb (Ulnar Collateral Ligament injury)

    The Ulnar Collateral Ligament is located at the base of the thumb. Skier’s thumb occurs when a sudden force pulls the thumb away from the other four fingers, causing a tear in the ligament.

    Symptoms

    • Pain and instability of the thumb when grasping objects

    Average recovery time

    A few weeks to a few months. A cast may be worn for protection.

  • De Quervain’s syndrome (tenosynovitis)
    De Quervain’s syndrome is an inflammation of the two tendons that run between the wrist and the thumb, often as a result of repetitive motions in racquet sports or after a direct blow to the thumb.

    Symptoms

    • Pain or swelling at the base of the thumb

    Average Recovery Time

    Four to six weeks.

When to see a doctor

In the sports world, hand and finger injuries are common, so it’s important to know what you can treat at home. In general, minor pain can often be alleviated with rest, ice, compression and elevation. But if your hand pain worsens over a few days or if you’re unable to move your hand or finger, see a physician.

See a doctor immediately if your hand pain was caused by a particularly forceful impact or if it's accompanied by:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Numbness
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Limited dexterity
  • Obvious deformity

Request an appointment with an orthopedic specialist

How we treat hand injuries

At Henry Ford, treatment for hand injuries typically begins with a physical evaluation by one of our sports medicine physicians who will identify the source of your pain and diagnose the injury. If necessary, your physician will issue an image scan like an X-Ray or MRI. After a diagnosis has been made, we’ll develop a custom treatment plan designed to restore your hand to full health.

Treatment options

  • Non-surgical Treatment

    R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) — When a hand injury first occurs, patients should rest the affected area to prevent further injury from occurring; ice it to reduce pain; compress it to reduce swelling; and elevate the injured hand above the heart to also reduce pain, swelling, and recovery time.

    Hand Therapy — Many hand injuries can be treated with physical therapy or occupational therapy. For recovering patients, Henry Ford’s rehabilitation team takes a multidisciplinary approach, combining exercise and strength training with manual therapy at more than 20 outpatient facilities across southeast and south central Michigan. Henry Ford is home to many skilled certified hand therapists with additional training/sub-specialization in rehabilitation of hand and wrist conditions

    Anti-inflammatory medication — Over-the-counter drugs such as Tylenol, Advil, Motrin and Aleve can often help reduce hand pain from minor sprains and aid in initial recovery.

  • Surgical Treatment

    Fracture Repair — When necessary, hand fractures may be surgically fixed using either percutaneous (through the skin) or open approaches to re-align the bone and joint.

    Tendon Repair — For severe tendon repairs, hand surgery may be necessary. Normally, partially torn tendons do not require surgery.

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