How to Know if You Broke a Knuckle & What to Do About It

A broken knuckle is not only painful but can also severely impact your hand’s functionality. Whether it’s due to an accident, sports injury, or any other trauma, recognizing the signs of a broken knuckle and seeking prompt medical attention is crucial.

In this article, Detroit area Hand Specialist Dr. Uzma Rehman we will guide you through identifying if your knuckle is broken, the different types of knuckle fractures, and the importance of consulting a hand doctor for proper evaluation and treatment.

Common Causes of Broken Knuckles

Common Causes of Broken Knuckles in Kids

Broken knuckles occur in both children and adults – but often due to different factors. Understanding the common causes of broken knuckles can help to some extent in preventing these injuries.

In children, active play, sports, and recreational activities are the most frequent contributors to knuckle fractures. Falls, collisions, or impacts during activities like soccer, basketball, skateboarding, or bike riding can lead to hand injuries. Protective hand-gear during these activities can typically prevent broken knuckles in kids and teens.

However, children are prone to accidental falls from playground equipment, trees, or even while running. These falls can result in hand and knuckle injuries. Roughhousing and horseplay with friends or siblings may lead to unintended hand trauma, including knuckle fractures. Obviously protective gear isn’t worn when these events occur!

Curious children may also explore their surroundings by opening doors, cabinets, or windows, sometimes leading to finger and hand injuries if these objects unexpectedly close on their hands.

Common Causes of Broken Knuckles in Adults

In adults, the primary cause of broken knuckles is injuries occurring in the workplace. Those working in industrial settings, especially with heavy machinery or equipment, are susceptible to hand injuries, including knuckle fractures. Jobs that involve manual labor, construction, or using heavy machinery can expose individuals to potential hand and knuckle hazards. And activities like home repairs or DIY projects also pose potential risks.

Like children, adults can sustain knuckle fractures during sports and recreational pursuits. Contact sports, such as boxing, martial arts, or football, can increase the risk of hand injuries. And everyday accidents, such as slipping, falling, or colliding with objects, can result in broken knuckles.

Unfortunate incidents involving physical altercations or assaults can lead to hand injuries, including fractures of the knuckles. And car accidents can cause significant trauma to the hands, often resulting in fractures, including knuckle fractures, due to the impact on the steering wheel or dashboard.

How to Know if Your Knuckle is Broken

Identifying a broken knuckle can be challenging without a proper medical assessment, but certain signs can indicate a potential fracture. If you or your child suffered a blow or impact to your hand or knuckles, and you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is crucial to be evaluated by a hand specialist as soon as possible, like Dr. Uzma Rehman in the Detroit area:

  • Knuckle Pain: Intense pain in the affected knuckle is a primary indicator of a broken knuckle.
  • Swollen Knuckle: Swelling, bruising, and inflammation around the knuckle are common in broken knuckles.
  • Deformed Knuckle: A visible deformity or misalignment of the knuckle may be apparent.
  • Limited Mobility: Difficulty moving the finger or hand may suggest a fracture.
  • Tenderness: If the knuckle area is hot or sensitive to touch for a length of time it may be broken.
  • Popping or Grinding: Some individuals may hear or feel a popping or grinding sensation during movement of the knuckle if it is broken.

Types of Broken Knuckles

Broken knuckles can vary in severity, and like all broken bones they are categorized into different types.

Hairline Fractures are small cracks in the bone and may range from only somewhat to very painful. Typically hairline fractures will not cause significant, visible deformity. As a result, hairline fractures of the knuckles are sometimes ignored – but broken bones should never be left to heal on their own!

Displaced Fractures are cases in which the bone fragments have shifted out of their normal alignment – while Comminuted Fractures involve the bone breaking into several pieces. And when the bone has pierced through the skin, it’s referred to as an open or compound fracture. All of these breaks require immediate medical attention to ensure that the bone does not heal in an improper position. And compound fractures obviously have to be treated immediately due to infection risks.

How a Hand Doctor Treats a Broken Knuckle

Consulting a hand doctor or orthopedic specialist is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment – to ensure that the knuckle heals properly, retains its functionality, and does not result in a lifetime of permanent mobility issues of the hand.

Treatment options for broken knuckles may include immobilization, such as a splint, cast, or brace, that is applied to prevent movement of the hand and promote proper alignment while healing.

For displaced fractures, a doctor may need to manipulate the bone back into its correct position. And for severe fractures, or those with broken off pieces of bone, or other significant deformities, surgical intervention to realign and stabilize the bone (sometimes using pins, wires, or screws) may be required.

This is why it is essential to see a board-certified hand specialist like Dr. Uzma Rehman, if you suspect a broken knuckle. An experienced hand surgeon will have the skill, training, knowledge, and experience to repair your knuckle, while preventing healing difficulties, deformity, or loss of function and mobility.

Medications or injections also may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation, as well as reduce the risk of infection.

Physical Therapy for Broken Knuckles After Recovery

Following the initial treatment, occupational and physical therapy can play a vital role in regaining strength, mobility, and function in the hand. This is another reason to seek treatment from a board-certified hand specialist like Dr. Uzma Rehman in the Detroit area. Her team includes certified hand therapists who can develop a customized rehabilitation plan to help restore your hand’s capabilities and minimize any long-term effects.

Broken Knuckle Treatment | Top Detroit Area Hand Doctor

If you suspect you or your child has a broken knuckle, it’s essential to seek evaluation and treatment from a board-certified hand specialist like Dr. Uzma Rehman promptly. Knuckle fractures are NOT a “wait and see” injury. Neglecting a fracture can lead to complications, including lifelong impaired hand function and long-term discomfort.

Detroit area board-certified hand specialist Dr. Uzma Rehman can accurately diagnose the extent of the injury and recommend the most appropriate course of action to ensure a successful recovery and a return to full hand functionality. Remember, early intervention is key to a swift and effective recovery from a broken knuckle.

Detroit Area Hand Doctor | Broken Knuckles: 586.532.0803