What is Compound Fracture of the Finger Bone?
To understand Compound Fracture of the finger bones, it is important to understand first as to what is a compound fracture. A compound or an open fracture is a type of fracture more often than not are caused by traumatic injuries to a bony part of the body in such a way that the individual gets a deep wound and the bone juts or protrudes out from the surface of the skin. Compound fracture usually happens in serious accidents, motorcycle crashes, something heavy weight falling on the foot or the hand.
Coming to the anatomy of the fingers, the bones of the fingers are called as phalanges. An injury to the fingers serious enough to cause the phalanx to protrude from the skin is called as Compound Fractures of the Finger Bones.
What are the Causes of Compound Fracture of the Finger Bone?
The root cause of Compound Fractures of the Finger Bones is a traumatic injury to the fingers. This traumatic injury can be caused due to a motorcycle accident. Compound Fractures of the Finger Bones can also be caused due to a heavy jackhammer falling on the fingers of an individual involved in manual labor. It can also be caused in sportsmen involved in contact sports like rugby, football, soccer, baseball and the like where the fingers can get crushed during a scramble where one person lands on the fingers of another or the or the ball hitting the fingers directly during a baseball game causing a Compound Fracture of the Finger Bones.
What are the Symptoms of Compound Fracture of the Finger Bone?
The very first presenting feature of a Compound Fracture of the Finger Bones is the presence of a profusely bleeding wound through which the bones tend to protrude. The individual will not be able to move the fingers at all and there will be visible swelling of the injured area associated with excruciating pain.
What is the Treatment for Compound Fractures of the Finger Bones?
The very first thing that one should do when you see an individual with a Compound Fracture is to take the individual to the nearest emergency room, as the wound may get infected due to environmental contaminations which may lead to delay in fracture healing or even in some cases amputation of the affected part and same is the case with Compound Fractures of the Finger Bones.
Administration of Antibiotics & Tetanus to Prevent Infection: As soon as the patient is taken to the emergency room, he or she will be given a tetanus shot and immediately started on antibiotics for prevention and treatment of any infection in case the wound may have gotten infected by that time. Depending on the severity of the disease, the type of antibiotic used will be given.
Tests: X-rays or MRI scan of the fingers will be done to look at the internal structures and to look at the extent of damage to the tissues and bones. Depending on the findings, the physician will try to gently put the bones back into alignment as much as possible to prevent any free fragments from causing further damage to the tissues. The finger will then be splinted to restrict mobilization and prevent further damage to the bones of the fingers.
Irrigation & Debridement: Once these things are done, then the real part of treating Compound Fractures of the Finger Bones begins. To control the infection, the physician will first do I&D or what is called as irrigation and debridement. During this procedure, the surgeon will remove all the dirt and foreign material from the wound along with any unhealthy skin or soft tissues. The surgeon will also clean the bones off of all dirt and foreign material. Any free fragments of the bones will be removed. This loss of bone due to this removal can be corrected later with further surgical procedures. Once debridement is through then the wound is cleaned with normal saline.
It is important here to note that it is extremely vital to stabilize the fractured bones to prevent further damage to the tissues. Patient is prepared for surgery for fixation of the fracture. The fracture may be fixed either internally or externally. Internal fixation is done for minor Compound Fractures of the Finger Bones which has minimal contamination and less severe injuries. External fixation is reserved for severe Compound Fractures of the Finger Bones with greater risk of contamination and injuries.
Internal Fixation to Treat Compound Fracture of Finger Bone: In this procedure, the bone fragments are first realigned in their normal position and then held together with screws and plates on the outer surface of the bone. This method of fixing the fracture aligns the bone almost in its normal fashion. It should be noted here that since there may be significant tissue damage and other injuries in a Compound Fractures of the Finger Bones, it may take some time before the actual surgery to fix the fracture is done.
External Fixation to Treat Compound Fracture of Finger Bone: In this procedure, the bone is realigned in its normal anatomical position and screws and plates are fixed above and below the fracture site. These screws are then connected to metal bars placed outside of the skin.
Once the compound fracture of the finger bone is fixed, then the wound needs to be closed. Wound closure is done depending on the complexity of the wound. These can be done through local flap or free flap procedures. In local flap procedure the muscle tissue of the injured wrist is rotated so as to cover the fracture and then a skin graft is placed over this. In Free Flap procedure a complete transfer of tissue is done. The tissue is usually taken from the back of the abdomen.
Post Surgical Treatment of Compound Fracture of Finger Bone: Once you are through with the surgery, in the postsurgical period you will more often than not have pain and stiffness for which you will need pain medications in the form NSAIDs like Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain relief along with gentle exercises. You may also be referred to physical therapy for the fingers so that they start to move the normal way in the fastest possible time period.
What is the Recovery Period for Compound Fractures of the Finger Bones Postsurgery?
The recovery period for Compound Fractures of the Finger Bones depends on the complexity of the injury and to what extent has the tissue and bones been damaged. If it is a minor fracture and the injury is mild then the patient may return to normal activities within a span of 6 to 8 weeks. If the finger bone fracture is complex and the injury is deep and complex then the recovery period may take three to four months before the patient can gradually return to full function of the fingers.
If the occupation of the patient is that of a typist or a data entry operator where he or she has to type a lot during the day then it may take up to 3 to 6 months before the patient can go back to normal work. There have been some cases where patients have even changed professions or filed for disability as they are not able to continue their work with the same effectiveness as they used to do before the compound fracture of the finger bone.