Steph Curry – Dislocated Finger Injury

Curry dislocated his middle finger after trying to tip the ball away from Rockets center Clint Capela in the first quarter of Game 2. He initially left the court and was taken to get an X-Ray and the injury came back negative. Curry returned to the game with taping around his middle and ring finger and scored 20 points in 33 minutes. Curry has reported that the finger still hurts but he will continue to keep playing but after completing a full practice on May 3, the two-time MVP is expected to play in game 3.

Steph appeared to suffer a ‘dorsal 3rd digit proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint dislocation’ on his left hand. The term ‘dorsal’ refers to the back side of the hand and the PIP joint is the joint between the phalanges of the hand that is closer to the body (see below). These joints allow flexion and extension of the fingers and are kept in alignment by soft tissues structures such as the joint capsule, volar plate, central slip and the collateral ligaments. Together, these structures provide stability for the PIP joint.

A dislocation is an injury where the ends of the bones (forming a joint) are forced from their normal positions – this typically causes intense pain, immobilises the joint and a visible deformity (out of place). Dislocation is most common in the fingers and shoulders – and dorsal PIP joint dislocations are the most frequently occurring hand dislocation.

If we look below at Curry’s finger immediately post-injury, we can see an obvious deformity where a part of his middle finger is forced in the direction of the dorsal (back) surface of his hand. This likely occurred from a hyperextension and compression force (finger bending too far back) against Capela’s forearm. This usually causes disruption of the volar plate (which prevents hyperextension of the finger) and at least one collateral ligament –  contrary to what Warriors guard Klay Thompson said post-game “…A dislocated finger, it sucks but… it’s not like he tore ligaments or anything…” Sorry, Klay.

After leaving the court, Curry  had his middle finger relocated (distracted/pulled away to put back into place) and missed only a few minutes to get an X-Ray – getting imaging straight away is important because the Warriors medical team must diagnose the severity of the dislocation and find any fractures which could complicate the injury, especially after relocating the finger. When the X-rays came back negative and the joint proved stable, Curry returned with buddy taping above and below the joint. This method of taping uses the neighbouring fingers to provide stability and prevent hyperextension.

The superstar point guard will be able to continue playing but will likely experience pain during play. The biggest things that Curry may have difficulty with is handling the ball – especially as he receives passes from teammates and supports the ball during his shot he will feel the pressure of the ball bending his fingers back. The key for Steph will be to manage his taping and pain – thankfully this injury isn’t too severe and it allows him to continue grinding through the NBA Playoffs.

Freiberg, 2007. Management of proximal interphalangeal joint injuries. CJPS
Brukner & Khan, 2017. Clinical Sports Medicine 5th ed

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