Hand therapy for finger strains and dislocations

Finger strains occur when a ligament that connects and supports the bones and joints in the finger is damaged, often as a result of being forced backwards.

Finger dislocations (proximal interphalangeal joint (PIPJ) dislocations) occur when the ligament tears and the bones move out of their normal position.

Real-life causes

“I jammed my finger while playing sport.”
“I fell onto my outstretched arm.”


Symptoms of a finger strain or dislocation include bruising and discolouration, swelling and difficulty with movement. If you notice an increase in any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention.

An x-ray may be needed to identify whether or not you’ve sustained any injury to the bones or joints. Your GP can refer you to one of our hand therapists for treatment.


Our hand therapists will create a custom finger splint to support your finger and give you some exercises to help restore movement and strength.

Depending on the degree of your injury, and the type of sport you play, your therapist, in consultation with your GP, can help you transition back to games and training as soon as it’s safe to do so. This might include making different splints and showing you different taping techniques.


With the right treatment, you can resume normal activities, including sport, within 4-6 weeks of a finger strain. Unfortunately, with significant dislocations, the swelling may take weeks or months to settle down.

Do you need surgery for finger dislocations?

Many of these types of injuries don’t require surgery. However, if the fracture involves a large fragment or a fracture that has shifted out of place or disrupted the joint position, a referral to a hand specialist will likely be needed.

Surgery for these more severe types of dislocation involves a procedure known as open reduction. This procedure use pins to stabilise the finger bone.

Post-operative care

Following surgery, your finger will be placed in a splint and given some gentle finger exercises. You’ll have an appointment with your hand therapist about a week later plus a follow-up appointment with your surgeon 10-14 days after surgery.

Possible complications of finger strains or dislocations

  • Chronic swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Loss of finger function
  • Prolonged splinting can increase the likelihood of volar plate scarring and flexion contractures (deformity)
  • Recurrent finger dislocation/instability