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AFL is a high-impact sport that demands strength, agility, and a whole lot of grit. But what happens when players get injured on the field? Today, we’re taking a closer look at one of the most common types of injuries in AFL: hand injuries


From fractures to dislocations and sprains, these injuries can significantly impact a player’s ability to grip, catch, and throw the ball – all crucial skills in AFL. With the 2023 AFL season just weeks away, it’s more important than ever to be aware of the risks and take steps to prevent and treat hand injuries. In this quick read, we’ll empower you with the knowledge you need to stay safe and perform at your best, even in the face of injury.


Most common injuries for footballers

Metacarpal fractures, finger dislocations and mallet fingers are amongst the most treated hand injuries post-game day here at Action Rehab.


Metacarpal Fracture

A metacarpal fracture is a break in one of the five metacarpal bones of the hand. Both the location and type of fracture dictates the treatment plan. Metacarpal fractures can be managed conservatively or surgically, depending on those two factors. 

The mechanism of injury for a metacarpal fracture in a footballer typically relates to incidents of punching the ball or catching your fingers (typically pinkie fingers) in an opposition’s jumper during a tackling motion (Robinson & O’Brien, 2022). 

Regardless of the recommended rehabilitation plan, Action Rehab and our associated surgeons will have you playing again in no time.

Therapist for hand injuries in afl | action rehab


Finger Dislocation

Finger dislocations can occur in the proximal or distal interphalangeal joint (PIP & DIP) in any one of your 10 fingers. 

A dislocation is characterised by one of the bones at PIP or DIP losing alignment as a result of excess force (Finger Dislocation, 2021). Whilst dislocated there is excessive tension placed on the joints supporting ligaments and tendons, including but not limited to the radial and ulna collateral ligaments (RCL/UCL) and volar plate (VP). 

Like that of a metacarpal fracture often dislocations are caused when fingers get caught in players jumpers. Finger dislocations are also common in marking contests when the ball lands in a player’s hand with great force. 

Dislocations can also be treated conservatively by Hand Therapists at Action Rehab, however some dislocations cause damage to supporting ligaments (e.g. RCL/UCL or VP) that may require surgical repair, in which case we can assist with your post-surgical rehab.

Mallet Finger

Finally, mallet fingers or ‘jersey finger’ occurs in the DIP joint and are typically the result of a forceful blow from the footy to the tips of your finger. There are two types of mallet fingers and which type of mallet you have will determine healing time frames and management plans. 

The first type of mallet finger is a ‘bony mallet’ and is caused by an avulsion fracture in the distal phalanx, due to the extensor tendon rupturing whilst remaining attached to the distal phalanx. Bony mallets are treated with fracture protocols (Mallet Finger, 2022). The second type of mallet finger is a ‘tendinous mallet’ which is the result of the extensor tendon rupturing (Mallet Finger, 2022). Both can be well managed by therapists at Action Rehab.


Final thoughts on Hand Injuries in AFL

Injuries are an unfortunate but common occurrence in the fast-paced, physical game of AFL, and hand injuries can be particularly debilitating. From fractures and dislocations to sprains and strains, these injuries can significantly impact a player’s performance and ability to play. 


However, with the right knowledge and prevention strategies, players can reduce their risk of injury and recover more quickly when injuries do occur.


Depending on your injury, Action Rehab Hand Therapists can provide you with individualised treatment plans and rehabilitation expectations no matter what your hand injury is.


Physio for hand injuries in afl | action rehab

How can Action Rehab help you?

With our team of experienced hand therapists and close relationships with some of Melbourne’s best upper limb surgeons, you can rest assured your hands are in the best hands at Action Rehab. We’re also happy to take part in some friendly AFL-related banter during your sessions with us.


At Action Rehab, we specialize in treating sports injuries, including hand injuries, and can help you get back on the field as quickly and safely as possible. Whether you’re a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, we have the expertise and resources to help you stay healthy and perform at your best. 


Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you stay ahead of the game!





  • Megan hitchens

    Megan graduated from Latrobe University with a Bachelor of Applied Science and Master of Occupational Therapy Practice. Whilst completing her studies Megan has worked in allied health clinics in reception and understands the importance of great communication with patients and the difference it can have on patient outcomes. During University Megan studied a variety of health-related fields including human anatomy and nutritional sciences. She also has clinical experience working in Hand Therapy, Geriatric Evaluation and Management and community health in the Northern Territory. Spending time in the Northern Territory in her third year of OT cemented her passion for helping individuals.