Volar plate injury

How would this injury occur?

The volar plate is a thick ligament on the palm side of the proximal interphalangeal joint (PIPJ) that prevents the joint hyperextending past the fingers’ usual straight position. A Volar Plate injury most commonly occurs with a sudden hyperextension force of PIPJ of the finger, which can overstretch (sprain) or tear the volar plate away from its attachment, sometimes pulling away a small piece of bone (a Volar Plate Fracture).   

VP Picture 1VP Picture 2


This may occur when a ball hits the finger forcing the PIPJ past a fully straight position, like in sports such as cricket, netball and basketball. It may also occur if your finger makes contact with an opponent forcing the finger past its fully straight position such as when playing Oztag or touch football, or when tackling in football.   

What are the signs and symptoms?


Most often there is pain and swelling at the affected PIPJ and bruising on the palm side of the PIPJ. The PIPJ may sit in a slightly bent position due to the pain and swelling and may be painful to fully straighten 

Why is treatment important?  


Left untreated, over time the PIPJ may become stiff and be restricted in movement to bend and straighten.  Your Accredited Hand Therapist (AHT) will assess the PIPJ stability and prescribe and fit a custom-made orthosis to protect the volar plate and allow it to heal. The splint may need to be worn full time for 4-6 weeks. You will be guided through safe movement exercises at the right timing, not too early nor too late in the healing process.


VP Picture 3


When should you see your Accredited Hand Thearpist?  


The sooner you are able to see your AHT the better!¿ If left untreated, your PIPJ may be stiff and hard to move. The volar plate and PIPJ need to be supported in the correct position to ensure the future stability of the PIPJ.  

Should I get an x-ray?


An X-ray will determine if there is an avulsion fracture of your volar plate post-injury. If you have had an x-ray, bring it to your first Hand Therapy appointment. However, your AHT can send you for an x-ray and may refer you to a specialist doctor, if required. 

How long until I play sport again?  


Your AHT will determine when you can safely return to sport, which may be early with a well-fitted orthosis, or maybe even sports taping.

You can find a practitioner of Hand Therapy in your area by visiting the AHTA website home page and click on “Looking for an Accredited Hand Therapist?”.  All you will need is your post code and you’re on the way to having your sports hand injury treated with excellent care.