Finger deformity

What is it?

Finger deformities include swan-neck deformity, trigger finger, mallet finger,  Boutonnière deformity, and Dupuytren contracture. These  may be caused by an injury or as a result from another disorder (for example, rheumatoid arthritis). Typically, doctors base the diagnosis of hand and finger deformities on an examination.

Why does it occur?

Finger deformities can be the result of an imbalance of different muscle groups caused by nerve dysfunction, or due to congenital defects. Fractures that are not well treated and the destruction of joint cartilage or ligaments, can also lead to deformity.

What are the symptoms?

Pain, swelling and stiffness or grinding in the joints of the fingers are all common symptoms. Fingers can get stuck in certain positions, or be difficult or painful to move.

How is it diagnosed?

An examination of your hand and fingers will allow your consultant to determine whether or not you have a finger deformity and if so  which type it is. They may ask you to perform certain movements to confirm a diagnosis.

How is it treated?

The best course of treatment will depend on the severity of the deformity, and the benefits of the different treatment options will be explained to you.

Non-surgical treatment

For damaged fingers, your consultant may provide splints to wear and exercises to perform at home. Warm baths are sometimes recommended to ease the pain and you may be given suggestions as to how to use your hand differently to ease symptoms. You may also be offered steriod injections if your consultant believes this is the appropriate treatment for your particular conditon.

Surgical treatment

In some cases, when symptoms are severe, or in those for whom more conservative treatments have not worked, surgery may be the best option.

Whether surgery is recommended will depend on  how much pain you’re in, whether it’s associated with other medical problems, and how much it’s affecting your life. Most finger deformity operations can be done under local anaesthetic and are usually day cases.

The One Orthopaedic team specialists

Peter Magnussen

Consultant Hand Surgeon, FRCS

Anthony Hearnden

Consultant Orthopaedic Specialist FRCS (Tr & Orth)