A cricketer’s fingers are particularly vulnerable to injuries such as broken bones, dislocations and sprains. These injuries usually result from an awkward catch or simply being hit by the cricket ball. Read on for information about the common types of finger injuries in cricket and how to treat them…
Mallet finger is a common injury in cricket caused by the ball hitting the tip of the finger. The end of the finger is violently bent by the impact, resulting in a rupture of the tendon that straightens the end joint (known as the distal joint).
In addition to the symptoms of pain and swelling of the affected joint, when a mallet finger injury occurs the tip of the finger will remain in a downward bent position – i.e. it will ‘droop’ – and it won’t be possible to straighten it.
Treatment for a Mallet Finger Injury
It is not recommended that a mallet finger injury is treated at home, so (as with all of the types of finger injuries outlined in this post) it’s always necessary to seek medical attention. Delaying a visit to a doctor for any of these injuries could make the treatment more difficult and may lead to delayed recovery or permanent stiffness and loss of mobility in the injured finger joint.
Treatment for a mallet finger injury will usually involve the splinting the finger in a straight position for up to two months using a specially designed mallet finger splint. Keeping the finger in this position allows the tendon to reattach to the bone. Once the splint is removed the treatment will focus on exercises and therapy to straighten the finger and improve mobility.
Finger Joint Dislocation
It’s relatively common for cricketers to sustain a dislocated finger and this type of injury normally happens as a result of the cricket ball striking the end of the finger. A joint dislocation is when a bone in the finger is moved (dislocated) from its socket causing damage to the tissue around the joint.
It’s usually obvious when a finger has been dislocated as it won’t be in a normal anatomical position: it may be bent at a strange angle or deformed. Common symptoms are intense pain, swelling and a loss of function in the finger. In severe cases symptoms may include tingling or numbness, or a break in the skin where the dislocation has occurred. In these cases the injured person should visit an emergency department as soon as possible.
Treatment of Finger Joint Dislocation
The swelling can be reduced immediately using an ice pack and by raising the injured hand above the level of the heart. It’s important to seek medical attention for a full diagnosis and correct treatment of this injury.
The doctor will need to correct the position of the finger be realigning the dislocated bones. The PRICE protocol should be followed for the first few days after the injury. A splint, or buddy taping, will be used to support and protect the injured finger for 3-6 weeks. To help to reduce the chance of decreased mobility in the finger it’s important to carry out any exercises recommended by the doctor or physiotherapist.
Finger Sprain (Volar Plate Injury)
The most common cause of finger sprains in cricket is when the finger is forced to hyperextend (i.e. bend back) while catching the ball. The middle joint of the finger (known as the PIP joint) is most frequently sprained and this occurs when the volar plate ligament that keeps the joint in a normal stable position is damaged by the force of hyper-extension. This type of injury may also include an avulsion fracture (where a fragment of bone is torn off at the ligament when the injury occurs.)
The symptoms of a sprain are pain and stiffness in the finger joint with a degree of swelling and in some cases bruising. The amount of swelling is usually an indication of how severe the injury is.
Treatment for Finger Sprains
To treat this type of injury immediately follow the PRICE protocol. As soon as possible the injury should be assessed by a doctor who will decide on the appropriate course of treatment.
Cold therapy using finger cold packs and compressive bandaging using cohesive bandage can help to reduce the swelling and pain. The joint may be rested and supported using a splint in the initial phase of recovery, however, with this type of sprain it’s important to move the joint quickly after the period of immobilisation. Specific exercises for keeping the joint flexible will normally be recommended as part of the course of treatment. Buddy taping may also be recommended by the physiotherapist/doctor as it is a good way of protecting the finger while allowing a normal range of movement.
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