Fingers are also called digits or phalanges. There are a total of fourteen phalangeal bones in each hand that move and support the fingers. Each of the four digits contains three phalanges: a proximal, middle and distal (far end) and the thumb contains two: a proximal and distal phalanx.  The phalanges are covered by cartilage where they articulate, forming hinge joints between themselves and condyloid (oval) joints with each metacarpal. Each joint in the finger is stabilized by ligaments on the sides (radial and ulnar) and a volar plate on the palmar side of the joint. This stability allows for optimal flexibility of digits in flexion, extension, abduction and adduction.

On the palmar and dorsal (back) side of each finger is a network of tendons and their complex stabilizing pulley system. Each digit contains two small but extremely sensitive sensory nerves that run down the sides of the palmar aspect of the digit. The thumb contains three. Next to each sensory digital nerve lies a tiny artery that feeds each finger its vital blood supply. Two veins on the back of each finger circulate blood back to the heart. Each digit contains a hard keratinized nail that provides added structural and functional support to the tip of the finger as well as an additional barrier to the skin. The skin on the palmar surface of the hand is thicker than on the dorsum, which provides a stronger barrier for greater utility.

Since we use our fingers to help us with almost every daily life and work task, they are vulnerable to countless types of injuries and chronic conditions, which are not to be underestimated. An injury to just one digit, presuming that a person has all ten, is a 10% disability to the hand.  If you have an acute or chronic finger injury, you should be seen by a specialized hand surgeon who understands the complex nature of fingers and can get you back to 100%.


A common sports injury seen in the 1980’s was nicknamed “skier’s thumb” because skiers trying to brace for a fall would land with outstretched hands onto poorly designed ski pole grips and injure their hands. With time, pole grips have improved, thus decreasing the incidence of this injury among skiers.

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