Signs of a Torn Ligament in the Finger

Bandage for hand
Doctor using a bandage to protect a patient's hand (Image: Marina Bartel/iStock/Getty Images)

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. Even with proper treatment, permanent finger deformities may develop. See your doctor 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 a physician applies pressure to a joint that has suffered a ligament tear, she may find that the finger moves excessively to one side, indicating that the ligament is stretched or torn. Joint instability may also keep you from fully bending or straightening 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 remove chunk 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 and Weakness

Finger ligament injuries typically cause sharp pain at the affected joint. The area may also bruise, and your entire finger may swell. These signs occur soon after 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.

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