ASK A PHYSIO

HAND / FINGER


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I injured my Finder and it is very blue. I wear a brace to immobilize it and wondering what else I should do

The blueness you are referring to is bruising that will likely take a couple of weeks to completely go away. I would suggest that you may wish to see a doctor and get an x-ray, or see a physiotherapist for a diagnosis to see exactly what the injury is.

There are some potentially serious injuries that you would not want to miss, such as a fracture (break) or a tendon rupture. If you still have any redness or heat coming from your finger or are experiencing pain I would recommend you continue to rest it and try to avoid activities that could put additional stress through you finger until it is healed.

To expedite healing you could try icing any swelling/redness for up to 10 minutes at a time throughout the day. Do not put the ice directly on your finger to avoid frost bite (put a dish towel or cloth between ice and finger)

When I mow the lawn, pull on my resistance bands, ride a bike, vacuum, etc. I seem to irritate a nerve in my palm that is near my thumb. How can I prevent this? I tried hand braces like the kind one uses for carpal-tunnel syndrome when mowing the lawn today and it was actually worse. I think the part of the stiff-foam brace that fits over my thumb or the top of the brace increased the pressure on this nerve. Bike gloves with gel in them have helped a bit in the past, but they were never very good, and this problem seems to get worse as I age (63 years old right now). Thank you ever so much for your assistance.

The pain you have described can be caused by a nerve being compressed by many things, including muscles. This can happen locally or further up your arm, or even in your neck. That said, there are other structures beyond a nerve that could also be causing this discomfort. A physiotherapist would do a complete assessment to determine what is causing your pain and use manual therapy, other modalities, and exercise prescription to help resolve this issue. In the meantime you could try massaging the muscles in your arm below your elbow by rolling your arm with a golf ball.

You can do this sitting down at a desk and roll one side of your arm and then the other. Start with 1 minute on each side every other day. If you find a point that is particularly sore you can hold the pressure there for 10 seconds. You should use moderate pressure that does not cause redness or bruising, you may have some discomfort similar to that of a deep massage. Your arm may be tender after this self-massage for 1-2 days at first. If the pain in your hand does not subside, you will likely need further treatment for your issue.

Give us a call at North Shore Sports Medicine to book an appointment with a physiotherapist who can help you with this and start you on your journey to recovery.

3 and 1/2 weeks ago my right ring finger was damaged by being caught in a postal truck sliding door. I suffered a fracture of the 2nd phalanx and required 10 stitches. The stitches are out now. The finger is still swollen and is very stiff. How do I get the joints moving again? I’m back to work in one week and I can’t really bend the finger (especially the first joint). What do you suggest?

It takes 6-8 weeks for fractures to heal completely. When you go back to work I advise “buddy taping” your ring finger to your pinky finger, or using a commercial metal/foam finger splint for up to 8 weeks or until completely healed. You could try wrapping your finger with something like Coban – stretchy stuff you can get at a pharmacy – wrap starting at the tip and moving towards the hand, with comfortable pressure to help with the swelling.

There are couple of exercises you can try:
1. Bend your finger as much as you can without any additional help and without causing any pain. Hold 3-5 sec and straighten your finger slowly. Try repeating this motion 8 times in the morning and at the end of the day.

2. Gently squeeze a ball (such as a tennis ball). Hold the squeeze for 1-2 seconds and relax, continue squeezing and relaxing for 8 repeats. If your finger is too stiff right now to comfortably grasp a tennis ball, wrap it with a towel until it is a comfortable width. This exercise can also be done 2x a day.

Although moving your finger during these exercises may feel stiff and awkward, you should not experience pain at all (during or after) or an increase in swelling or bruising. If you experience any of these symptoms during or after the exercise including the following day ice your finger for 10 min at a time and consider coming in for an assessment prior to resuming any exercises.

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