Surgery to Repair Broken Finger: Emily's Story

Hand X-Ray

Emily was playing the offensive position of jammer for her roller derby team when one of her opponents swept in for a big hit. Emily’s finger was pulled away from her hand resulting in the fifth metacarpal bone being fractured. Emily practiced through the pain not thinking anything was seriously wrong. She posted a picture on Facebook of the injured finger and her friend, Dr. Bree Simmons, who is also a sports medicine doctor at St. Vincent Sports Performance, suggested that maybe her injury was serious and needed a professional evaluation.

Emily visited Dr. Simmons, and she first splinted the injury to try to get the bone to reset on its own. She continued to play roller derby in a hard, protective splint. After several weeks, though, it became clear via X-ray that the bone was healing out of position. Since Emily is a writer by profession, her hand is a commodity, Dr. Simmons referred her to Dr. Kathryn Peck of the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center for an complete evaluation. Dr. Peck said surgery would be needed to repair the fracture and put it in a better position. Dr. Peck would implant a small plate and screws to support the bone.

"Emily had an impending mal-union where her bone was displaced and causing her fingers to cross over whenever she made a fist. It affected her grip strength as well as the function of her hand”, said Dr Peck. Dr. Peck would basically scrape off the part of the bone that was regenerating, restore the pieces to alignment and attach them with hardware. Emily had surgery just days after she met with Dr. Peck.

After surgery Emily visited the therapy department to start regaining her range of motion. The therapist used ultrasound treatment and exercises to restore the movement and range of flexibility in her hand. Emily also had exercises she had to do multiple times daily at home. “The staff was always very friendly and gave me different exercises to keep my hand on a steady arc of improvement. They also gave me different splints to maximize the range of movement my hand could have. This made my life easier at home and I'm sure encouraged the restoration of full function to my hand.” said Emily

Emily was unable to participate in roller derby for around six weeks. Dr. Peck worked with Dr. Simmons (who is a former roller derby player who works to ensure all athletes keep as active as possible while healing from injury) to track her progress. “I think I was off skates for about four weeks, then I was allowed to skate with no contact for about two weeks, then finally I was allowed to fully participate with a protective splint. When they determined the bone was healed and not in danger of easily breaking in the same spot, I stopped using the splint.“ Emily said.

“Emily worked incredibly hard to get back to roller derby as quickly as possible. Her dedication and commitment to the rehabilitation process was amazing” said Dr Peck.

My experience with the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center was the best you could expect from the situation of having a broken bone. I was reassured by the fact that I was going to a center with expertise in hands.

“Dr. Simmons had strongly recommended the practice and Dr. Peck in particular. Dr. Peck explained everything to me in terms I could understand and was open to helping me get back into full participation in my sport as soon as possible. I don't know if she was familiar with roller derby before I walked into her office, but some medical professionals are freaked out by and overly cautious about the fact that I would choose to spend my free time playing a full-contact sport on wheels. However, Dr. Peck seemed to understand its importance and open to helping me reach my goals of getting back on skates as soon as possible. I felt she combined the best qualities in a health care provider in that she was both straightforward and honest, but also projected the kind of caring and concern you want in a medical experience. I also enjoyed working with the various therapists at the center. I like that the surgery center was attached to the same place where I met with Dr. Peck and got my x-rays. It felt like a comprehensive and cohesive practice in a way that's kind of rare these days in health care.” said Emily.

“Any time I hear anyone has a hand or shoulder injury, I recommend the Indiana Hand to Shoulder and Dr. Peck. Her down-to-earth approach, combined with her expertise, make her an excellent physician, from this patient's perspective. I only have a small scar and my hand works great.“

Patient Stories