Boutonniere Deformity

What is the Treatment Process for Boutonniere Deformities?

A Boutonniere deformity is a medical condition that affects the joints in the fingers or thumbs. When a person develops this type of deformity, their finger or thumb becomes bent in two different directions, making it very hard to straighten or use the affected joints. As this condition progresses, it can produce painful symptoms and interfere with everyday tasks. Without proper medical treatment, a Boutonniere deformity can become a permanent impairment. 

What is the Cause of Boutonniere Deformities?

Ordinarily, a patient develops a Boutonniere deformity from a cut or tear to a tendon in the finger or thumb. In certain cases, weakening of these tendons from trauma or disease can produce the same effect.

Once these tendons become weak, torn, or cut, they can slide out of place. When that happens, the finger or thumb usually bends at the middle joint. As this bending intensifies, it pulls on the end joint, forcing it to bend backward in the opposite direction. 

What are the Symptoms of Boutonniere Deformities?

When a Boutonniere deformity manifests, the patient usually has difficulty straightening the affected finger or thumb. Patients often complain of soreness or stiffness in the affected joint, which increases as this condition progresses. 

More specifically, it is considered a Boutonniere deformity if a patient displays the following symptoms:

  • A finger bending one direction at the middle joint; or
  • A thumb bending one direction at the basal joint; and
  • The finger or thumb is bending the other direction at the end joint.

In many cases, patients will first notice bending in the middle joint. It is not until the deformity advances that the end joint bends in the opposite direction. Without proper medical treatment, a Boutonniere deformity can become permanent. 

How are Boutonniere Deformities Diagnosed & Treated?

As Boutonniere deformities can seem like a simple jammed or sprained joint, a doctor should conduct a full examination to pinpoint the precise issue. During this process, a doctor will usually ask the patient to straighten the affected finger or thumb at the middle joint. It is also common to see whether the patient can bend their finger or thumb at the end joint. 

In addition to a physical examination, a doctor will often order imagining tests as well. By conducting an X-ray or MRI, a doctor can search for broken bones and weak, cut, or, torn tissues. Ultimately, a doctor needs to understand why the joints are bent to figure out an appropriate treatment method. 

Once a doctor successfully diagnoses a Boutonniere deformity, it is possible to evaluate the available treatment options. Patients are not advised to engage in self-treatment, especially forcefully straightening or bending the injured joint. This can cause further damage and lead to additional problems. 

For patients with minor Boutonniere deformities, non-surgical treatment is often effective. In this domain, doctors will often apply a splint to the injured finger or thumb. By immobilizing the injured joint, it can release pressure and allow the condition to heal. =

In cases of more developed Boutonniere deformities, surgery might be required to correct the issue and enable proper healing. Surgical treatment is often necessary if the tendon was completely torn or there is a fragmented bone out of place. 

Are You Suffering from a Boutonniere Deformity?

If you are displaying any of the signs or symptoms of a Boutonniere deformity, it can be highly valuable to reach out to a proficient orthopaedic physician for treatment. At the Orthopaedic Associates of Riverside, our physicians have board-level training and credentials, along with a demonstrated emphasis on orthopaedic treatment, including Boutonniere deformities. If you are suffering from a Boutonniere deformity or other orthopaedic conditions, contact us today to consult with a qualified medical professional.