Almost all of us have dealt with sprains and strains at one time or the other. They occur when soft tissues in the body such as tendons, muscles, and ligaments are hurt or injured.
Difference between Strains and Sprains
Sprains and strains can happen in any part of the body, the most common being the ankles, wrists, and knees. The most common causes of sprains and strains are traumatic injuries, repetitive movements, and excessive pressure or force to a particular joint.
While a strain is an injury to the muscles or tendons, it’s less severe and less common than a sprain. In case of a sprain, the ligament that connects two or more bones inside the joint is overstretched or torn.
Sprained Fingers — Understanding the Causes
Finger sprains are quite common, especially among active people and sports players. The most common cause is sports injuries where the fingers are bent unusually causing the ligaments to stretch and tear.
However, simple physical impacts such as hitting your hand on the counter or breaking a fall by throwing out your hand can also cause the ligaments to tear or rupture.
Symptoms of Sprained Fingers
The primary symptom that indicates a possible sprain is inflammation in the specific area. That is the first line of defence of the body’s immune system after an injury. Reduced mobility in the fingers that persist even after a couple of days is also a common symptom of a sprain.
Some other painful conditions also associated with sprained fingers include:
- Localized pain
- Increase in the intensity of pain with movement
- Reduced ability to extend, straighten, or bend the fingers
- Throbbing pain even while the hand is resting or hanging at the side
- Visible bruising
Treating Sprained Fingers
Mild sprains, where the ligaments aren’t torn or ruptured and just over-stretched, do not require medical treatments. They can be treated at home using over-the-counter anti-inflammatory and pain medication which helps manage the painful symptoms while the ligaments heal naturally.
The RICE method is also proven highly effective in speeding up the healing process for sprains. The method involves:
Rest: The best way to reduce the swelling and pain is to give your finger time to heal. Limit the use of the hand where the sprain has occurred for a few days following the injury.
Ice: Apply an ice pack to the area where the swelling and pain is more prominent. Avoid exposing the skin to the ice directly and don’t leave the ice pack on for more than 15 minutes at a time.
Icing the injuries for longer periods can cause the tissues to freeze and damage the muscles in the process
Compression: Gently wrapping the injured fingers in compress wraps, elastic bandages or sports tape helps keep them from getting more damaged. The light pressure doesn’t restrict the flow of blood and provides relief from the pain and swelling.
Elevation: Elevating the hand and keeping it above heart level decreases the throbbing pain and reduces the swelling in the injured fingers. You can prop it up with a pillow while you are resting or put your hand in a home-made sling for a couple of days.
Benefits of Exercise and Therapy
Once the swelling and pain have subsided from the sprained fingers, it’s important to start moving them. This helps in regaining the lost mobility and strengthens the fingers.
However, it’s important to avoid straining your fingers without giving it the proper time to heal. Move them as much as comfortable and avoid any rigorous activities and lifting heavy loads until they are fully recovered.
Getting professional physical therapy can be the key to regain motor function quickly and speeding up the healing process. An expert physical therapist will make sure you don’t try out any exercises that will increase the chances of further injury.
Professional Physical Therapists in the greater Toronto area!
The expert physical therapists at Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute in Toronto can help you deal with all kinds of sprains, strains and other sports injuries. Our premier sports medicine and physiotherapy clinic provides a range of services including physical therapy, concussion treatment, shockwave therapy, and pelvic floor physiotherapy.
Contact us now to schedule an appointment!