The knuckles located on top of the hand and underneath the fingers play an essential role for the hand to move, grasp, and perform all functions. They are tough, very thick bones that help your hand connect to your fingers. Although they are known to be strong bones, they like other bones on the body can still be fractured and broken.
A broken knuckle is fun- said no one ever. Yes, having a broken knuckle can be very painful and inconvenient. It can cause you not to be able to use your hand without feeling sharp pain. You hand can also be bruised, swollen, and discolored when you break the knuckle in it.
If you feel that you may have a broken knuckle you can see a doctor. The doctor will perform an X-ray to diagnose the break. There are several ways that a doctor or you (at home) can treat, mend, and gain pain relief from a broken knuckle.
Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Knuckle
The largest cause of a broken knuckle is direct trauma such as punching someone or something hard. Often broken knuckles are called boxer’s fractures, because boxers break their knuckles often. However, broken knuckles can be caused by something heavy crushing the knuckle, a fall, car accident, and other miscellaneous causes. If you think you may have a broken knuckle here are some of the signs and symptoms you may be experiencing:
Immediate & Sharp, Stinging Upon Injury
Anytime you break or fracture your knuckle it will hurt immediately after the injury occurs. It is an aching, stabbing, sharp or dull pain but it is there and you should know it. Even with little pain if your hand has undergone a trauma directly and it hurts in your knuckle region you could still very well have broken something. The pain also can coincide with the severity of the injury, itself.
Bruising and Discoloration in the Area
When a trauma has occurred in the knuckle of your hand, it results in a loss of blood in the region where the damage is done. As this blood pools up it appears as redness, purple, blue discoloration of the pigment of your skin- also known as bruising. Sometimes a broken knuckle will not bruise, however more serious breaks will prominently bruise.
Numbness and Swelling
Typically within only a few minutes of sustaining the injury or broken knuckle you will experience numbness and tingling sensations. This happens as the swelling progresses because when something swells it has a tendency to crush and compress the nerves that give you ‘feeling.’ The swelling will take place very rapidly and before a short time passes you may also discover it hard to move your hand. Additionally, the swelling & bruising can refer to other parts of your hand and down to your fingers, occasionally.
Knuckle Retracts and Will Look Sunk In
This is typically a sure-fire certain sign that you have a broken knuckle! If the bone that connects a few or just a single part of your finger looks like it has disappeared when you contract or tighten you hand- you can bet you have broken knuckle and that the bone has been crushed and severely compromised.
Here are some pictures of Broken Knuckles to give you an Idea of what one looks like!
Treatments and Protocols for a Broken Knuckle
When it comes to having a broken knuckle you may need to see a doctor immediately upon injury to have it taken care of and X-rayed. Here are some of the ways that you can or your doctor will treat you for a broken knuckle:
Scrapes, Lacerations and Wounds
Often if have hit something with your hand or it has been directly smashed you will notice scrapes, lacerations, cuts or wounds that need to be treated. You should stop the bleeding first, clean the wound with soap and water, rinse, dry and then bandage it up so you do not fall prey to infections that can occur from exposure to bacteria.
Since you broke your knuckle you are most likely experiencing pain when you move your hand, and also pain associated with the swelling. This type of pain can range from a constant dull ache to a very sharp pain that throbs. The best way that you can help to get some relief is to take an anti-inflammatory over the counter medicine such as tylenol, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium. Often if your pain is sever enough a doctor may even provide you with a stronger medicine available by prescription only.
Another way that you can also manage your pain is to put ice on the area that is affected. It will help take the swelling down and to numb the pain. It is recommended that you elevate your arm and hand so that the blood flow and throbbing is not as intense. Elevation can help alleviate that throbbing pain caused by blood flow pumping through where you injury is located.
Get Swelling Down
The swelling can be a bad thing! It can cause more pain than anything so it is important that you take and utilize an ice pack along with an anti-inflammatory medication to help take care of the swelling as quickly and optimally as possible. Many times the doctor will not cast a hand or be able to do any type of treatment to it if swelling is serious.
Splint or Cast
When a knuckle is broken and really out of place, your doctor or you can tape it to a stationary position either by using a splint or by using another finger or other parts of the hand to stabilize it.
Surgeries for Severely Broken Knuckles
Many times a broken knuckle with rest, ice, and a splint can heal on its own. Usually 4-6 weeks time. However, in more serious circumstances the break can be so severe that it merits medical intervention in the form of surgery. The doctor will decide what he needs to know for you to have the best prognosis whether it is wiring your hand or using metal plates to reinforce the bone.