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What is Karate Kid Finger?

Karate kid finger is a traumatic injury occurring in the little finger. This injury is most commonly seen in children and young adults, as well as people who may take up karate later in life and who are prone to beginner’s injuries due to poor form.

It becomes clinically evident as paresthesia and pain along the ulnar border of the finger and hand increase. Additionally, the ulnar dorsal digital nerve of the little finger can sustain chronic damage due to repetitive contusion when the hand performs a karate chop.

Signs and Symptoms of Karate Kid Finger

Karate Kid Finger appears as numbness over the dorsoulnar aspect of the little finger (i.e. the two segments of the finger below the nail). There may be a hot spot near the middle joint—the proximal interphalangeal joint on the side of the finger.

Some of the most commonly reported symptoms of karate kid finger include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty holding onto an item
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Swelling

Causes of Karate Kid Finger

Karate Kid Finger is due to karate chops with flawed technique or to overuse, causing contusion and scarring of the nerve serving the skin over the dorsomedial aspect of the distal and middle phalanges of the little finger.

This is a common sports injuries, occurring when the hand absorbs the impact of external forces.

Injuries Associated with Karate Kid Finger

Blunt force trauma and sprains are the two most common categories of injuries associated with karate. As a result of blunt force trauma, students may suffer contusions, lacerations, or fractures.

Fractures require early diagnosis and immobilization. However, other injuries can be treated modestly in order to reduce pain and begin healing.

Treatment Options for Karate Kid Finger

Rest, anti-inflammatory medications, as well as moderation and technique correction usually suffice. Sometimes surgery is necessary to microscopically free the nerve of scar tissue. Immobilization or buddy-taping may be required to allow the finger to heal without additional stress.

Conservative Treatments

Most injuries of this nature can be treated with rest and anti-inflammatory medications. After receiving clearance from a hand surgeon, patients can rest their fingers by applying P.R.I.C.E principles:

  • Protect: the injured area should be protected with a splint or buddy-taping.
  • Rest: the injured finger should be allowed to rest.
  • Ice: use a cool pack or ice bag briefly to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Compression: Professional wrapping of the area with a bandage may limit the amount of swelling that can occur.
  • Elevate: elevating the finger also helps control swelling by using gravity to limit and reduce the amount of fluid that goes to the affected area.

Surgical Treatments

In some cases, surgery is necessary to microscopically free the nerve of scar tissue. This is necessary in cases where the injury becomes chronic, slowly building up scar tissue over time. This may prevent patients from operating their little finger properly.

A hand examination from Drs. Pruzansky can accurately assess whether or not a patient is an appropriate candidate for surgery

Prognosis for Karate Kid Finger

Most patients will regain full mobility and range of motion in their injured finger following the treatment level appropriate for their injury. In most cases, rest from karate practices and activities for 7-10 days to allow the finger to rest and repair itself will be sufficient with form correction.

In cases of surgical intervention, patients may be required to keep the digit immobilized briefly.

If You Believe You Have Karate Kid Finger, Contact HandSport Surgery Institute

Please contact us to schedule an appointment with our talented team. People experiencing Karate Kid Finger should be evaluated to try and prevent further injury and mobility issues.

If you have been injured, it’s important to be evaluated by a highly skilled hand surgeon. Call Drs. Mark and Jason Pruzansky at 212-249-8700 to schedule an appointment, obtain an accurate diagnosis, and start to restore comfort to your hand.

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