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Finger sprain

anat_lgt_dgtm-s A finger sprain is the stretching or tearing of a ligament.
A ligament is a fibrous structure that maintains the articulation (≠ the tendon which is one part of the muscular apparatus)

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Jocelyn-William LOUBRIAT
 

Definition

A finger sprain is the stretching or tearing of a ligament.
A ligament is a fibrous structure that maintains the articulation (≠ the tendon which is one part of the muscular apparatus) (fig 1).

The collateral ligaments of the proximal interphalangeal articulation (PIP) of the fingers are generally the most affected.
The sprain is an accident with almost immediate pain and instant functional inability, and with an oedema that can be more or less severe.

The extent of the pain, the functional inability and the oedema depend on the severity of the lesion (from simple stretching to complete tearing of a ligament).

A probable effect of a sprain is a lateral laxity of the articulation due to a lack of support, because the ligament does no longer play its role.

 

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Fig 1: Anatomy of the interphalangeal ligaments

Mechanism of the lesion

The fingers’ twisting is responsible for the sprain.

Some complex holds require twisting the fingers, as e.g. with oblique holds.
The risk is equally high when climbing in narrow cracks as it is with deep holes: the finger can get stuck in the hold.
A bad landing on a hold after a dynamic movement or on the ground after a fall can also be disastrous for the collateral ligaments of your fingers.

This might seem redundant, but it is important to understand that repeating identical strain on a structure, in this case a ligament, leads to damage to it.

 
Prevention

Technique correction:
Learn to better place your fingers, grabbing a hold with precision is extremely important.
Remember to make sure you can exit your fingers from deep holds when making dynamic movements.

Correcting the planning schedule:
Do not carry heavy loads without rest and do adjust the intensity to your level.

Correction of the physical preparation:
A rigorous warm up of the fingers allows waking up the nervous receptors which are able to inform the organism of wrong articulation placements.

 
Treatment

Stop the session immediately and put a lot of ice on it at soon as possible (ice cube massage).
Immobilise the finger with a syndactyly strap (strap to the next finger).
Continue to put ice on it, 3 times per day, and apply an anti-inflammatory gel for one week.
Continue to put ice on it if the pain persists after one week.
A sprain is no harmless lesion.
We strongly recommend that you see a specialist in sports medicine as soon as possible so that you will receive adequate treatment, which should include physical therapy. The sooner the lesion is treated, the lower the risk of persistent problems.
Be careful, in cases of serious sprains with a possible dislocation, consult an orthopaedic specialist for hands.

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