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Signs of a Torn Ligament in the Finger

by
author image Charis Grey
For 15 years, Charis Grey's award-winning work has appeared in film, television, newspapers, magazines and on the Internet. She has worked as a story editor on the CBS drama "Flashpoint" and her work appears bimonthly in "The Driver Magazine." She has a Bachelor of Science in biology and a doctorate in chiropractic medicine from Palmer College.
Signs of a Torn Ligament in the Finger
A splint may be recommended for partial finger ligament tear. Photo Credit HadiAltay/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

Ligaments are strong bands of connective tissue that connect bone to bone. These structures keep your joints stable as you move. Finger ligament injuries can cause long-term complications if they are not promptly diagnosed and treated. Even with appropriate treatment, permanent finger deformities sometimes develop. See your doctor right away if you notice signs of a torn finger ligament.

Joint Instability

Ligaments support each side of your individual finger joints. These structures keep your finger bones in proper position. Ligaments on either side of the middle joint of your fingers are most commonly injured. Such injuries are sometimes referred to as jammed fingers. When pressure is applied to a joint that has suffered a partial or complete ligament tear, the finger moves excessively to one side. Joint instability may limit your ability to fully bend or straighten your finger.

Excessive Mobility

The volar plate is a sturdy band of connective tissue crossing the front of the joints in the middle of your fingers. These structures prevent your fingers from bending too far backward. Volar plates can be partially or completely torn, particularly if your finger is forced backward. A volar plate injury may also pull off a piece of bone, called an avulsion fracture. Hyperextension, or excessive backward bending, can be a sign of a torn volar plate. This injury may also cause the finger joint to dislocate, making the finger appear crooked.

Pain, Tenderness and Weakness

Finger ligament injuries typically cause sharp pain and tenderness at the affected joint. The area may also bruise, and your entire finger may swell. These signs occur soon after the injury. Within a few weeks, bruising and swelling typically subside. However, pain often continues for several months as the ligament heals. Finger weakness may develop with decreased joint stability, making fine motor tasks difficult, such as writing or sewing.

Warnings and Precautions

See your doctor right away if you sustain a finger injury associated with any warning signs or symptoms, including:
-- finger deformity
-- inability to move the finger
-- severe or worsening pain

Reviewed by: Tina M. St. John, M.D.

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