Finger injuries can occur when blocking a ball.
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Finger injuries are common in ball sports, including basketball. You may stub or jam your fingers when the ball hits your fingers instead of your palm. These injuries are often minor and may be safely treated at home, but you cannot determine this for sure without consulting a doctor.
Stubbing your fingers can cause a number of different injuries. Although some are immediately obvious, such as a dislocation, others are not. Tendons that straighten the middle and last joints of the finger can tear when a basketball hits your finger. This usually causes the finger to droop immediately after the injury, and when you try to straighten your finger, you can't. These types of injuries require immediate medical attention.
The ligaments that attach bone to bone can stretch or tear, causing finger instability when the bones move too much. Fractures can occur along the finger bones or with a tendon or ligament tear where it attaches to the bone. These injuries might not be immediately apparent due to swelling. If you have pain, swelling or stiffness 48 hours after the injury, consult a doctor.
Immediately after a finger stubbing injury, ice is often applied to decrease swelling and reduce pain. Ice is typically used for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, every 3 to 4 hours for the first few days after the injury. Elevating the hand above the level of the heart also helps reduce swelling. A splint can be bought at a drugstore and worn to rest the finger and protect it from further injury. Care should be taken not to strap it on too tightly. Tingling, numbness or darkening color of the tip of the finger may indicate the splint is too tight and the straps should be loosened.
After a few days of rest, gentle finger movement can begin to keep the joint from getting stiff. Tendon gliding exercises help maintain flexibility. Hook-fist exercises bend the middle and last joints in the finger while keeping the large knuckle straight. Full-fist exercises bend all the joints in the finger at the same time. The finger should be straightened fully between each fist.
Exercises are typically performed in sets of 10 repetitions, working up to 3 sets in a row, several times each day. Between exercise sessions, the splint may be worn to protect the finger. Buddy wrapping the injured finger to the one next to it provides stability, but also allows some movement of the joints. This can be used in place of a splint for approximately 2 weeks after the injury.
Finger swelling and stiffness can continue for several months after a finger injury. Daily exercises may still be necessary to maintain finger movement. Stiffness is particularly common first thing in the morning. Warming the finger in the shower or sink increases blood flow, making these exercises easier. The finger may be weak from decreased use while the injury was healing. Grip strength is improved by squeezing a ball or rolled towel for 5 minutes several times each day. Sports activities can usually be resumed when the finger is pain-free and full motion has been restored.