Just a Bruise!

Atlanta Braves’ All-Star catcher Brian McCann gave Braves Nation a momentary reason to panic Saturday when he was struck in the right ring finger by a ball off the bat of a former teammate in the first inning of Saturday’s game against the New York Yankees (see this article).

Luckily, McCann regained feeling in his right hand soon after and doctors diagnosed his finger injury as merely a bruise – not a break – and predicted that he’d be back on the field in a few games, or even a few days.

While the immediate pain from the hit was intense, McCann is extremely fortunate that he didn’t suffer a break or the condition commonly known as “Baseball Finger,” which occurs when a sudden blow to the fingertip damages the thin extensor tendon that serves to straighten the finger. Per the name, this condition is common in sports like baseball – especially for catchers – and is indicated by mild pain, bruising and swelling, as well as an inability to straighten the fingertip.

While surgery is usually unnecessary with Baseball (or Mallet) Finger, the condition does require treatment and doctors will normally splint the tip of the finger in question for a period of 6-8 weeks. Not only is the recovery time much longer than that predicted in McCann’s instance, but the resulting splint would most likely interfere with throwing and batting, which would prevent the player from practicing. Occasionally, the mallet deformity is accompanied by a fracture and would usually be treated in about the same manner.

As you can see, despite the loss to the Yankees, McCann is a lucky guy!

Healthiest regards,
Dr. Pruzansky

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