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How do I fix my broken finger?

Q: I am a 29 years old male. Four years ago, I badly injured my left hand's mid finger while playing cricket. The finger broke off in the middle and the bones inside it shattered. The doctor made the joint straight by placing two small rods that had screws on the top, which the doctor used to tighten up every 2-3 days. Two months after this procedure, the finger joined but now my middle finger does not bend like other fingers. It pains a bit at times. Is it possible that my finger starts working normally as it used to before this injury?

A:If your doctor has given the consent, there are couple of exercises to start with. Keep in mind that most of the time, hand rehabilitation takes a little while longer (1-3 months) as they are smaller joints and the blood supply is not as much as it would be in a larger body part. The key is to remain consistent and persistent. When you had the external fixator on your finger the broken finger was really not allowed to move so you can definitely expect a lot of stiffness so this is very normal. You can do the following exercises for your stiff finger: The finger needs to be bend at each segment, including knuckle joints need to bend and straighten individually. You can do the following exercises for 10-15 times, 2-3 times a day

  • Exercise 1: Make a fist, curling the fingers as much as you can. You can use the other hand (good) to help curl by using it to wrap around the other hand (enclose), hold that position for 10-15 seconds before release.
  • Exercise 2: with a stress ball (a ball that can be compressed) placed in the palm closer to the fractured finger, try to squeeze the ball for 10 seconds before releasing.
It would be good to warm up the hand first before trying to bend to loosen things up a bit. Make sure you hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds and repeat throughout the day. Its not necessary for more the better, but being consistent throughout the day. Don't go into too much pain range, you should be feeling a mild-moderate stretch with the stretches. If you over do them, swelling will start to occur. If it does, back off about 10-20% of the intensity. Lastly, you should consider maybe a few sessions with a physical therapist or occupational therapist (about 5 sessions if you can) to assess you properly, update your exercises and provide suggestions on aids.

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