How Does a Fractured Finger Heal?

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Finger Fracture

  • A bone fracture is a broken or cracked bone. Finger fractures can be especially painful because the fingers bend. Finger fractures are very common because the bones are small and the fingers are used a lot, which makes them prone to injuries. It is important to have a finger fracture treated by a doctor. A finger fracture that does not heal properly can cause lifelong pain and dysfunction in the finger. The finger bones must allign correctly in order to function properly without pain.

Treatment

  • A doctor analyzes a finger fracture injury with an X-ray, so that he can see the extent of the damage. Most finger fractures are not serious and can be treated without surgery. The doctor uses his hands to push the bone into place and give it the proper alignment. The finger is placed in a splint to keep the bone properly aligned. The splint is usually worn for three weeks while the bone heals. Generally after three weeks, the bone is strong enough that the splint can be removed, but the bone does not fully heal to its original state for a few months. Evidence of the fracture may be noticeable on X-ray for a few years. Fractures that are serious, may need surgical intervention to set the bone back into place. The surgery is performed by an orthopedic surgeon. During the surgery, pins are inserted into the bone to hold it in proper alignment. The recovery time after surgery varies greatly depending on the injury and the invasiveness of the surgery.

Healing

  • The body has an amazing ability to heal. The body heals fractured bones in three steps.

    1) Inflammation: The site of the injury swells. The inflammation is caused by an increased amount of blood flow. The body increases blood flow to the area to bring immune system cells to the area. The cells remove damaged tissue from the area.

    2) Repair: After the injured area is cleaned out of damaged tissue, the body starts building external callus. External callus is a temporary growth of bone structure. At first the external callus is weak and prone to injury. As the external callus grows, it calcifies and becomes stronger. The external callus stabilizes the injury site.

    3) Restoration: After the external callus is formed, the body works on building brand new bone. The body absorbs the external callus as it builds fresh new bone.

    Younger people heal and build new bone faster than older people do.

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  • Photo Credit This public domain illustration of the human finger was originally published in the 20th U.S. edition of Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body, originally published in 1918
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