Broken Knuckle: Causes and How to Treat a Fractured Knuckle

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broken knuckleMany of us depend on the good health and functioning of our hands for daily activities, even for our livelihood. A broken knuckle can have a detrimental effect on our day-to-day lives, but there are ways to deal with the pain and symptoms at home. We will discuss the causes, symptoms, and how to treat a fractured knuckle.

Why Is My Knuckle Broken?

Your knuckles are one of the strongest parts of the human body, but accidents do happen. A blunt force to the hand by a hard fall, an auto accident, or by hitting an object or a person, can cause the knuckle to fracture or break. Once referred to as a boxer’s fracture, a broken knuckle is more commonly known as a brawler’s fracture. Of your hand’s knuckles, the most susceptible to a fracture is the one located nearest to the pinky finger.

Broken Knuckle Symptoms

Have you recently had trauma to your hand, or even been in a fist fight and are now wondering if you have a sprained knuckle or a broken knuckle? Let’s examine the signs of a fractured knuckle.

1. Popping Sensation

Did you feel or hear a pop from your hand upon impact? This is one of the first common signs something has gone terribly wrong when a person hits their knuckle with a hard surface. You may experience this with a very hard hit as the bone of the knuckle breaks or explodes into pieces.

2. Pain

Usually, whether you have a popping sensation or not, the impact will cause immediate pain. The worse the injury, the more severe the pain will be. You may feel a jolt of pain, or it may be a dull, throbbing ache. The fractured or broken knuckle may still be able to flex without an increase of pain.

3. Swelling

After a few minutes of impact, you probably will see your hand begin to swell. The region of the injury will become stiff and hard to move. As an immediate symptom of a fractured knuckle, the swelling will overtake your entire hand and affect the mobility of your other fingers.

4. Numbness

Numbness may occur along with the swelling, as you may experience a sensation of tingling and numbness of the injured area. The swelling will cause compression on the nerves, and as it worsens, numbness is sensed.

5. Bruising

Depending on the severity of the impact, a bruised knuckle will appear very rapidly. A major break of the bone causes blood loss to be much faster than any other injury, and will present bruising sooner than expected.

6. Sunken Knuckle

The tell-tale sign of a broken knuckle is the presence of a sunken knuckle. If you wonder if it is truly broken due to the small amount of swelling or pain you may be experiencing, check if the knuckle is depressed into the hand.

The above symptoms are the signs of a broken knuckle, but there are also accompanying signs and symptoms to watch for in most cases of a fracture, or break of the knuckle bone.

7. Stiffness

With swelling you can have stiffness in the area of the injury as well as in the nearby finger or fingers. This stiffness may last for a long time after the knuckle is healed, and in some cases, the mobility of the finger or hand may not be restored completely.

8. Infection

The affected bone may become infected by an infection in the tissue or from the bloodstream. Osteomyelitis can lead to surgery, and in rare incidences, amputation of the infected digit.

9. Delayed union

A proper healing of the knuckle bone may take a longer time, and is referred to a delayed union.

10. Mal union

If you follow all the recommended treatments of a broken knuckle, there is still a chance it may heal in a different state. This may result in a twisted or a smaller form of the bone.

11. Non-union

Despite your best attempts, even with surgery, your bone may not heal back to its original state.

Fractured Knuckle Treatment

Depending on the severity, home remedies can be done for broken knuckle treatment without a doctor. We have placed the treatments in a time progression order for more effective healing.

1. Clean Wounds

With many knuckle impacts, there are cuts or scratches that may occur on your hand. These must be dealt with first to prevent infection. Wash open wounds with a clean cloth or towel, warm water, and a gentle pure soap or antiseptic. It is recommended to cover any open surface with a clean gauze dressing or bandage.

2. Ice It

Use an ice pack on the affected area as soon as possible to help with the onset of swelling. The pressure and touch of an ice pack can increase the amount of pain, but it will help with inflammation, which can cause greater pain.

3. Elevate Hand

The third task is to raise the hand above the level of your heart, whether you are standing or sitting. By elevating the injury, you are allowing the excess of blood to flow away from the area, as well as helping to prevent excessive swelling.

4. Splint Fingers

To promote proper healing of the knuckle, secure the affected finger to the closest finger with a splint. This will help to keep the knuckle in place and straight during the healing process. Keep it strapped for at least three weeks.

A broken or fractured knuckle can happen to anyone at anytime. The best course of action is prevention. However, it can easily happen with accidents, during a fall, or by participating in a physical activity with your hands, such as a fight or boxing workout routine.

The severity of the break results in varying degrees of the signs and symptoms. A sunken knuckle is a proven sign the bone is broken. Take the necessary steps to prevent infection and further damage to the knuckle with appropriate treatment, which can be done at home with most cases.

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