Wearing a finger splint that prevents the middle knuckle from bending backward allows you to bend and straighten your finger more easily. A properly fitted finger splint keeps the tissues around the joint from overstretching and may help keep the deformity from worsening.
Swan neck deformity is a disorder (especially of the middle finger, which can resemble claw hand) in which the joints bend in abnormal positions due to an underlying health condition or injury.
3 treatment options for swan neck deformity
Treatments for swan neck deformity include:
- Physiotherapy/Exercises: Massages and stretches are used to increase the strength and mobility of the fingers and hands.
- Medical rings: These include a special ring that is worn on the finger joint to help correct its position and prevent it from bending.
- In most cases, the finger with swan neck deformity can be treated nonsurgically with specially designed splints that immobilize the finger while promoting natural healing.
- Surgery: Surgery is the only option in more severe cases, and it is used to reposition the tissues in the finger joint, or the joint is replaced or fused to restore movement.
- Any one of the following surgeries may be performed:
- Soft tissue repair: The skin, ligaments, and tendons that surround your finger's joint are surgically repaired. This strengthens the structure around the joint and prevents it from hyperextending. This method cannot correct severe swan neck deformities.
- Proximal interphalangeal joint arthroplasty: Joint arthroplasty is a surgical procedure that removes worn or damaged joint surfaces and replaces them with artificial parts. The soft tissues surrounding the joint are balanced to restore the joint's normal mobility.
- Finger joint fusion: It is a surgical procedure that involves removing the damaged bony ends of a finger joint and then inserting a prosthesis to fuse the bones back together. The procedure of finger joint fusion is used to relieve arthritis pain in the fingers.
- Any one of the following surgeries may be performed:
You will be required to wear a splint for several weeks following surgery.
To manage pain, doctors may prescribe pain medications. Physical and occupational therapy sessions will assist you in reducing pain and inflammation as you heal.
4 exercises or stretches for swan neck deformity
The primary goal of rehabilitation exercises is to maintain the balance of the tendons, joints, and muscles in your fingers.
Your doctor will advise you on stretching and strengthening exercises to increase your range of motion while maintaining alignment and function in your fingers and hands. Before beginning an exercise program, consult your doctor.
- Finger passive range of motion:
- Your doctor may advise you to use a passive range of motion to maintain flexibility and range of motion in your fingertips.
- Begin by extending your affected hand in front of you. Bend your affected hand with your un-injured hand.
- Next, gently straighten your affected finger as much as you can. Hold for five seconds at the apex of this finger extension.
- Perform one set of 10 repetitions three to five times per day to promote flexibility in your finger joints.
- Finger extension:
- Begin this exercise by standing in front of a table, upright. Place your affected hand on the table's surface with your palm flat and your fingers extended.
- Lift each finger as far off the table as possible, one at a time.
- Hold for five seconds at the apex of the finger extension and then relax.
- Perform one set of 10 repetitions three times per day.
- Pick up small objects such as coins and marbles with your injured finger and thumb promotes joint health and flexibility in addition to finger extension.
- Squeezing a rubber ball and holding each squeeze for five seconds will help your injured hand's range of motion and flexibility.
- Finger adduction and abduction:
- Swan neck deformity is characterized by bending at the base of your finger, straightening of the affected finger's middle joint, and bending of the affected finger's outermost joint.
- To begin, stand tall and bend your elbow to a 90° angle. Spread your fingers as wide as possible by bringing the arm of your affected finger to the side of your body. Hold for five seconds before reuniting your fingers.
- Perform one set of 10 repetitions three times a day to increase the circulation of oxygenated blood to the fingers and improve joint health.
- Finger flexion:
- Swan neck deformity can prevent the affected finger from bending normally. This exercise improves joint health and finger flexion.
- Place your affected hand's elbow on a flat surface, such as a table, and lift your forearm straight up. Slowly bend your fingers to the middle of your palm, one at a time. Hold for five seconds at the apex of each finger flexion.
- To improve flexion and range of motion in your fingers, do one set of 10 repetitions three times a day.
Nonsurgical treatments can have recovery times ranging from 8 to 12 weeks. Individualized recovery is possible, and your doctor will tell you what to expect.
What are the common causes of swan neck deformity?
Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common cause of swan neck deformity.
Other possible causes include:
- Other types of arthritis
- Untreated mallet finger (a condition often caused by an injury)
- Poorly healed fracture in the finger
- Other direct trauma to the finger that has weakened the ligaments surrounding the proximal interphalangeal joint
- Nerve damage that causes muscle spasms
- Severely jammed tip of the finger
- Tightened hand muscles due to injury
- Looseness of the fibrous plate inside the hand located at the base of the fingers
- Loose finger ligaments
- Ruptured finger tendon or tendons
- Some genetic conditions such as Marfan’s syndrome
Swan neck deformity of the fingers, whether caused by trauma or rheumatoid arthritis, can be a debilitating and painful condition.
If swan neck deformity is detected early enough, it can be treated with less invasive measures before the finger joints become very stiff in the hyperextended and flexed positions.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Slideshow: 10 Ways to Exercise Hands and Fingers: https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/ss/slideshow-hand-finger-exercises
Swan Neck Deformity: https://www.joionline.net/trending/content/swan-neck-deformity
Hand And Finger Exercises: https://www.assh.org/handcare/condition/hand-finger-exercises
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