It’s been seven weeks since I badly broke my right ring finger. Last Monday, I went in for a follow-up appointment with my surgeon.
My physical therapist and I have been working on straightening my finger, as it cannot currently straighten on its own. I can straighten it without pain by using my other hand or by placing my hand on a flat surface.
I was hoping I was unable to straighten it independently because the break wasn’t fully healed yet and was impacting my range of motion. Unfortunately, it appears to be a result of my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS).
The good news is that the break is nearly healed. Due to the severity of the break, my hand surgeon couldn’t get my finger perfectly straight, but it’s close — much closer than if I had not had surgery at all. I’m thankful I was able to see a hand specialist who commonly fixes these types of injuries. Now we just have to focus on mitigating the impacts of EDS on my recovery.
My doctors hoped my EDS wouldn’t impact my healing very much because it affects tendons and ligaments rather than bones. In the time since my injury, however, we’ve come to realize that I likely sprained the support structures around my finger in addition to breaking the bone. Right after the break, my finger was at a very unnatural angle, which makes it likely that I damaged the connective tissues, too. Unfortunately, that is related to my EDS.
In the most basic sense, EDS affects my body’s collagen production. I produce poor quality collagen, which means I don’t have the normal elasticity in my tendons and ligaments that most people do. For many people with EDS, when those structures get stretched, such as during a sprain or a strain, they often don’t contract back to their normal position. Instead, they tend to stay stretched out, which means they don’t perform their functions very well.
It appears my injury badly damaged my extensor tendon, which is what allows you to straighten your fingers. That’s why I haven’t been able to flex or straighten my ring finger very well. I’ve been doing lots of range-of-motion exercises in physical therapy over the past four weeks, but for the next three weeks, my surgeon wants me to keep my finger as straight as possible and minimize flexion that activates the extensor tendon.
As a result, I have an extension finger brace that I’m supposed to wear as often as I can handle it, according to my surgeon. With those words, you know it’s going to be fun! At least there’s something we can try.
It actually hasn’t been as bad as the surgeon made it out to be. I suspect that may be because of the extra flexibility from my EDS.
While it’s not the news I was hoping for, I’m thankful we haven’t exhausted all of our options to improve my finger’s function and range of motion. I can already notice a slight difference after just a few days of wearing it, so fingers crossed that in three weeks we see some real progress!
Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.
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