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Old 12-13-2010, 02:58 PM   #1
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Pin insertion to repair a broken finger?

If you've had surgery to insert a pin in a broken finger, can you please share your experience? Did you get a 'twilight sleep' while the procedure was done? What was the recovery like, and how long was the recovery?

My dd broke her finger on 10/30 and has been seeing an orthopedic doctor for treatment, which up until now has been a splint. Most of her latest x-rays are showing some healing, but on one x-ray it looks as if she isn't healing as well as she should. Our doctor is sending her to a surgeon to see if a pin should be inserted into the finger since it hasn't healed as well as he had hoped it would. I spent the day playing phone tag with the surgeon's office to get an appt. for her. Hopefully we'll get in touch sometime today and can be seen this week. Meanwhile, I'm wondering if anyone can share what the pin insertion is like.

Thank you!
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Old 12-13-2010, 03:06 PM   #2
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All I can give is experience on "Twilight Sleep", if that is what you are having.

I had twilight sleep once, and I remember being 100% aware of what was going on, but not caring in the absolute least bit. I remember the medical assistants talking about a new movie Brad Pitt was in, and in my mind, I was adding commentary to their conversation! When I woke up, I was out of it for about 15 minutes... I asked the nurse "...if the Fed Ex man was there for me yet." Afterwards, I was fine, but in pain.

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Old 12-13-2010, 03:08 PM   #3
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in 1994, I cleaved off a hunk of bone off the end of the middle bone in my pinky finger while trying to catch a shallow fly ball in a softball game. I didn't quite get under the ball in the back-hand catch attempt and it smacked my bare fingers that were sticking out from under the glove supporting it. (I told my Dad it was all his fault since he taught me to always use two hands to catch a ball!)

I had two pins inserted in an effort to re-set the bone and allow it to heal. It healed, but the repair was not 100% "like new". To this day I cannot fully curl my pinky finger when I make a fist. It only goes about 85% of the way.

During the out-patient operation, they put a tourniquet on my arm and gave me a "regional" anesthetic in my arm plus and IV drip that I guess you'd call "twilight sleep". I was "awake" during most of the procedure, but dozed in and out.

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Old 12-13-2010, 04:51 PM   #4
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I broke and dislocated my pinky and ring finger on my left had a few years ago christmas shopping and also had it splinted and a 1/2 cast forever after they set them (in the emergency room...........yikes!!!) and then my followup xrays showed too much damage and not enough healing so my surgeon did want to do the surgery and insert pins, but i have yet to have it done..............in order to have the pins inserted he wanted my fingers healed as best they could be and then i had physio to gain as much movement back in them as possible and then he would do surgery to insert the pins and i would go thru the whole healing, pain, splint, 1/2 cast and physio all over again........i choose not to and to wait until they re-break which he assured me they would and then at that time they can take me directly to the operating room and fix them with pins.

My fingers are still a pain when the weather changes and they dont work properly but they have not broken again so no pins and surgery for me until that happens.
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:09 PM   #5
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Thanks for sharing your experiences. I finally secured an appointment with the surgeon, which will be on Thursday.

My dd broke her pinky playing dodgeball. She didn't even know she broke it. She thought it was a 'finger jam' and played with it broken for over an hour! It wasn't until the next morning that she said that her finger was really hurting and we got the 1st x-rays, to discover it was broken. We went to an orthopedic doctor and have been seeing him every 2 weeks for the past 6 weeks.

Silly question---Is the pin insertion something they can usually do in the office, or is that usually a hospital procedure? I'm sure I'll get the details on Thursday, but I am wondering now. I was assuming that the pin would stay in her finger, but I googled that sometimes pins are removed. I'll have to find out what her circumstance will be. Geoff, I'm sorry you didn't regain full mobility. Dd's finger has been in a splint for 6 weeks and we're hoping when it's all said and done that her pinky will bend OK.

I never thought that a pinky finger can cause so much pain and stress. Thanks, again, for sharing your experiences.
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:56 PM   #6
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I had pins in my wrist after breaking it and I was completely out for that.

For the pin removal, it was that lovely twilight sleep. I don't remember much but I remember yelling out that it hurt and then apologizing for yelling. The nurses laughed at me and told me I didn't need to apologize. The next thing I remember was getting dressed and going home. Pretty easy experience on the whole.
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Old 12-14-2010, 01:09 PM   #7
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my 18 year old got in a fight with the side of my house and jammed his pinky so bad they had to put a pin in. Now remember, he is a big "manly man" but.. he went to the orthopedic dr and they put the pin in at a local care center (like walk-in) not in his actual office. They set him up just like a regular hospital, put him out and it was over in like 30 mins or less. Removal I think was pretty much the same. This was a few months ago and he just graduated boot camp and is not complaining at all about pain. They kept him in a cast for a bit, but otherwise he is no worse the wear at least for now. Not sure if this helps.

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Old 12-14-2010, 01:57 PM   #8
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I have not had a pin put in later, but I had some hand surgery which resulted in 2 pins in the thumb. The doctor first injected my arm with a nerve block which made the whole forearm & hand go numb. Then they gave me twilight sleep, did the surgery, then woke me up. Honestly, the pins didn't bother me that much. Now, getting them out was a whole nother ball game. I was not offered any sort of medicaiton or sedation and let me just say OWWW to the 10th degree.In fact, I passed out briefly. Afterward my doctor "complimented" me, saying, "You know, most people have to go tothe OR for that." Thanks a lot buddy. You coulda offered. I would have definitely taken him up on that.
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Old 12-14-2010, 02:09 PM   #9
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Mine was done about 32 years ago, after breaking the pinky for the fourth time. It was surgery and I was fully under. They clean out the joint and then insert the pin. Woke up with a full cast. Pin was removed 6 weeks later, just a quick removal, no pain at all.
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Old 12-14-2010, 03:08 PM   #10
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My mom just had this done she is 72. She was not sleeping the dr said that he told a joke and she laughed. the hand and or fingers will be in a very well protected splint. that will then come off and a splint will be constructed to keep the fingers protected while pins are still in, then some weeks later they xray it and pull the pins out in office.

my mom was in pain but you also have to remember she is 72. her fingers are still in the process of healing and she is starting therapy this week.
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Old 12-14-2010, 03:26 PM   #11
It's like I'm stuck in a music time warp
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I love Target! Where else can you buy candy corn 90% off?!
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It sounds like it's common to have the pins removed after insertion. My dh has a permanent pin in his leg from a break, so I had assumed that dd's pin would remain as a structural aid to her bone. One of the things I'll ask is if the pin is coming out, and what all that entails (twilight sleep again?? office procedure??). I'm hoping she won't need to do therapy, but time will tell.

She's already worn the splint for 6 weeks, an eternity for an 11 yo who loves to be active. It sounds like it could be on for quite some time to come. As long as it does heal OK, all of this will be worth it. Needless to say, she's pretty worried about the upcoming appointment. We were all hoping that this would have healed better on its own and that she'd be done with the splint instead of starting over again with a new doctor and the possibility of a pin.

Thanks, again!
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Old 12-16-2010, 03:13 PM   #12
It's like I'm stuck in a music time warp
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I love Target! Where else can you buy candy corn 90% off?!
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We saw the surgeon this morning. Long story short........no pin!

The surgeon thinks that a pin isn't a good move now and that she's healed enough to regain full mobility. She still has to wear tape (no more splint) but takes the tape off for therapy exercises 2x/day at home for 2 weeks. She has 2 weeks on her own to get that finger moving well. We see him again in 2weeks, and then he'll decide whether she's OK or if she hasn't make enough progress at home then she will start going to a hand therapist. We will also have a follow up with the orthopedic doctor in a few weeks.

That's it in a pinky finger nutshell. I hope she'll do OK with getting the finger moving at home. She says it hurts to move it, but those muscles have not been used at all in 6 weeks. Two times/day, she is to squeeze a ball or work with Play-Doh.
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Old 12-16-2010, 03:32 PM   #13
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DD19 had pins put in her big toe 2 weeks ago. She broke the bone in 3 places. They put her to sleep for the procedure, they said that they would keep adults awake but younger people they put to sleep. she went back to dr. yesterday hoping to have the pins removed but she has to keep them in for another 3 weeks.
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