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What is Pitcher’s Finger?

Pitcher’s Finger is an injury to the sheath housing the tendons that flex the end of the finger. Specifically, parts of the pulley system are damaged.

Characteristics and Clinical Presentation of Pitcher’s Finger

Some patients may or may not hear a popping or clicking sound at the time of injury. Other indicators of injury include localized pain in the finger, which can include tenderness to the touch. Bowstringing of the tendons may also be present as thickening on the palmar surface.

Common symptoms include:

  • Tenderness to touch along the finger.
  • Swelling and inflammation usually at the base of the finger.
  • Stiffness when bending the finger.
  • Pain when gripping or grasping objects.

Getting a Diagnosis for Pitcher’s Finger

Pitcher’s finger requires immediate medical treatment to maximize the finger’s functionality. During your examination, your hand surgeon may hold the finger and ask you to bend it. If this is painful against resistance, you may have a pulley system tear. An MRI may be useful to further delineate the damage.

An MRI may be necessary to visualize ligamentous injuries, as well.

Treatment Options for Pitcher’s Finger

Pitcher’s Finger injuries that do not receive prompt treatment may result in deformity or stiffness. However, the majority of pitcher’s finger injuries can be treated with conservative measures, without surgical intervention. Should your injury necessitate surgery, your hand surgeon will go over your options with you.

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, usually a ring splint
  • Rest: the injured finger should be allowed to rest.
  • Ice: use a cool pack or ice bag to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Compression: prudently wrapping the area with a bandage usually limits 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.

Conservative Treatments

Most pitcher’s finger injuries can be treated with ring splinting. During this time, your orthopedic hand surgeon may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain management to relieve unpleasant pain symptoms. A prompt diagnosis has the potential to improve a patient’s prognosis.

You may wear a splint for several weeks with periodic examinations during this time to monitor your progress. Your splint is worn at all times and gripping limited.

Surgical Treatments

Severe instances of Pitcher’s Finger injuries may necessitate surgical intervention to reconstruct torn pulleys to optimize finger function. Patients may require splinting to immobilize their operated finger and may be prescribed pain medication for a brief period immediately following their procedure.

Preventing Pitcher’s Finger

To help try and prevent pitcher’s finger, athletes should use caution while participating in sports activities. Patients with a history of injury to the finger should consider wearing a splint during the time they are healing and cease sports activities until they receive full medical clearance. Maintaining proper form and utilizing proper body mechanics while in play is also important.

Prognosis for Pitcher’s Finger

Patients who require splinting methods of treatment will wear a splint for several weeks. Patients will generally receive routine examinations and X-rays of the finger to assess if it is healing properly. After receiving medical clearance, most patients can look forward to returning to play at preinjury level.

If You Believe You Have Pitcher’s Finger, Contact HandSport Surgery Institute.

Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with our talented team. People who have been hurt 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 professional. Call Drs. Mark and Jason Pruzansky at 212-249-8700 to schedule an appointment and obtain an accurate diagnosis.

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