Fingers and thumbs are commonly injured in netball, mostly either when the ball hits the end of the finger, resulting in compression of the joints, or when the ball hits the fingers on the palm side, causing the joints to bend backwards. This second injury is called a ‘hyperextension’ injury. Both of these can result in damage to ligaments, tendons, bones and joint surfaces in the finger, and can also include fracture or dislocation.
What can physiotherapy do?
Treatment will depend on the nature or the extent of the injury. In mild cases, ‘buddy taping’ can be used to protect and rest the joints. In more severe cases, fitted splints must be made to support the fingers and rest them: these need to be worn for a longer period of time. Ultrasound is a helpful way to reduce swelling and bruising of the injured area.
If dislocation of a joint occurs, then an X-ray must be done to ensure that the alignment of the joint is normal and that there is no fracture present. If no obvious dislocation has occurred but the fingers are still very painful, bruised or swollen, it is important to rule out the possibility of a fracture, so an X-ray will still need to be organised.