A hand injury suffered as a result of a car or motorcycle (or any vehicle) accident has a major impact on the person who is afflicted. Hands are a major factor of daily life, from insignificant activities we take for granted, such as grasping and holding, to work-related tasks, in anything from desk jobs to physical labor. This is not to mention the effect on the essential aspects of transportation, recreation and basically any type of activity we encounter.
Serious hand injuries, in addition to injury to the fingers, wrists or elbows, can have a permanent impact on your life. There are several types of injuries typical to motor vehicle accidents and many of them are caused by the force of impact. However, whether it is a minor ‘fender bender’ or a serious collision, the accident usually produces fairly immediate symptoms, such as pain, swelling and bruising.
Broken bones in the hand are often caused by a motor vehicle crash. One common type of fracture occurs to drivers whose hands are on the steering wheel at the time of the accident. This is called the “boxer’s fracture,” and consists of a break in the bones that form the knuckles. While many fractures can be treated non-surgically with a splint or a cast, unstable fractures may require surgical intervention.
Ligaments are tissues that stabilize the joints by attaching bones together. Injuries to these ligaments are another common result of motor vehicle accidents. When fingers suffer direct trauma or hyperextension of a joint, it can result in ligament sprains or tears. Ligament injuries can also be caused by jamming your finger. A ligament strain is often treated by immobilization. A torn ligament may require surgical repair.
While there are several joints that can become dislocated as the result of a vehicle accident, the most common is the proximal IP joint (PIP joint), which is located in the middle knuckle of the finger.
Such a dislocation is treated by “re-setting” the joint to put it back into its original position. This is done by the doctor, who then provides an immobilization device, such as a splint, to hold the finger in place.
Due to the fact that the hand is such an important part of daily living, it is vital for any victim of a vehicle accident to seek a diagnosis with a qualified and experienced hand specialist. Even if you feel you have suffered only a minor injury, it is better to be safe with a proper evaluation. After all, any long-term injury can magnify problems that a qualified physician can address before they cause unnecessary problems. Experts such as those of us at The Center for Hand Disorders can also advise you on physical therapy or rehabilitation following an injury.