Netball is one of the most popular women’s participation sports in South Africa.
Finger and thumb injuries are amongst the most common problems experienced by netball players. Quite often I hear netballers say, ‘I just jarred my finger, it will be alright’. However, as a hand therapist, I know that this isn’t always the case.
A jarred finger can actually be a much more serious injury than you think.
It can affect you for a long time. Jarred fingers can result in fractures and dislocations. Torn ligaments, tendons, and muscles are common. They can also cause a sprain of the joint capsule. Whether you are Sharni Layton, Kate Maloney or the local defender, we can all hurt our fingers and thumbs badly. This can affect our playing sports, work and personal life.
As with any injury, the best initial approach is to follow the RICE principles; Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. If there appears to be a dislocation of a joint or a fracture, it is important to seek medical advice urgently. An x-ray of a finger injury is important to rule out any fractures or other joint damage. Then appropriate treatment can be provided. You can get an x-ray through a hospital emergency department, your GP, or through a hand therapist.
So, when should you get medical help?
Signs of a more serious injury such as a fracture or tendon injury include large amounts of pain with movement, swelling in the finger and being unable to move your finger normally. Being able to move your finger doesn’t mean that it isn’t broken. Even the less severe ligament injuries can cause you a lot of discomfort and stop you from getting back on the court.
A hand therapist will be able to make a special splint to fit your finger and protect it while it heals. You will get exercises that will speed up your recovery and be safe for your injury. We can also help reduce swelling in the finger and give you strategies to get back to netball or other sports sooner.
Treating the injury quickly and appropriately will always result in a shorter rehab, a more normal finger and quicker return to netball.