I am typing this with one hand because I jammed and broke my finger yesterday -- just the tip -- but is it ever painful! I'm attempting to let it heal on its own with a splint. Will this be okay six weeks from now?
The joint that moves the tip of the finger is called the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint. It is at risk for injuries like this -- especially among athletes like baseball players who are catching balls pitched or thrown at fast speeds. But injuries like these can occur at home or in the workplace, too.
The proper medical term for this type of finger fractures is a mallet finger fracture. Many times, a mallet finger fracture can and will heal on its own. If the bone is not displaced (separated or shifted apart), straightening it out and putting it in a splint will allow it to heal in the correct alignment.
But if there is a bone fragment that has pulled away from the main finger bone (called a phalanx, then surgery may be needed to repair the bone. That's when surgery may be needed. The surgeon realigns the two bones, using wires, pins, or screws to hold it in place until it heals.
It's important to make sure you have seen a surgeon before attempting to self-treat. An accurate diagnosis and plan of care appropriate to the problem will save you from problems in the long run.
Xu Zhang, MD, PhD, et al. Pull-Out Wire Fixation for Acute Mallet Finger Fractures with K-Wire Stabilization of the distal Interphalangeal Joint. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. November 2010. Vol. 35A. No. 11. Pp. 1864-1869.
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