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Joint Dislocation

What is It?

Joint dislocation is an injury where a joint is forced out of normal position.  It is usually obvious if a finger has been dislocated as the finger will appear crooked, swollen and will be very painful. The finger may be bent at a strange angle and often it is not possible to bend or straighten the finger.

What is it caused by?

Dislocations can occur in contact sports, such as football and hockey.  Those who play ball sports also commonly dislocate joints in their fingers – either by accidentally striking the ball, the ground, or another player.

How is it treated?

It is recommended to seek medical attention immediately if there is any loss of sensation (numbness), if there are any open areas of skin or if the finger is cold, pale, or bluish in colour. It is standard procedure to X-ray the finger to confirm the dislocation and assess for any broken bones.

Dislocated bones are realigned with a simple technique. A local anaesthetic is injected into the finger to help decrease the pain and allow the doctor to realign the bones. Following relocation, the injured finger will then be placed in a protective splint by a hand therapist. This will ensure that the dislocation does not reoccur and will reduce pain and further injury through movement.

The duration of splinting depends on which bones have been dislocated and whether there are any additional injuries. Hand therapists prescribe exercises to perform during the healing process, which will help to restore movement, strengthen grip, and reduce the chance of complications developing.

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