Tracey Lindsay came to Mr Manu Sood, Consultant Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgeon at Spire Hartswood Hospital, after a fractured finger had failed to heal.

Here is Tracey’s story …

“On a snowy Sunday lunchtime in November, two years ago, I nipped outside to get something from my car and, somehow, the front door of my house slammed shut on my hand. My right index finger took the brunt of it. I was trapped outside with my hand wedged in the door. Stunned, I hammered on the door with my other hand and my husband Mark opened it. I fully expected to see my fingers on the floor but, as I looked down, part of my finger was split open and there was blood everywhere. I felt really faint. I’m not good with pain.

My family rushed me to A&E where I was told I’d fractured my finger in four places and was sent to another hospital to have the finger pinned. We arrived there at about 7pm and I was asked to stay in to be operated on the next day. On Monday I sat in my gown all day long, nil by mouth, waiting for my op. It really hurt even though I’d had painkillers. I sat there all day Monday and most of Tuesday. Eventually, on Tuesday at about 7.30pm, I was taken into theatre. The surgery took three hours. 

I had regular hand therapy for several weeks and had to take four months off work, which I felt awful about, but my job involves a lot of lifting and moving folders so I wouldn’t have been able to cope. It’s amazing how important that finger is, even in doing a zip up! I couldn’t drive as I couldn’t hold the steering wheel properly. I couldn’t cook; my mum stepped in and did Christmas dinner that year! I couldn’t even wrap the Christmas presents as I couldn’t manipulate the Sellotape. As for putting on make-up, or washing my hair, I had to get my mum to dry my hair which was an experience!

Around Christmas, the pins that had been put into my finger started popping out. Every time I bent my fingers I could see one of these pins come out. Apparently it can happen if your body rejects them. It still hurt quite a bit. If I knocked it, pain would shoot up my arm. The hospital doctor suggested removing the pins under local anaesthetic. After the pins were removed, I had an X-ray and it was obvious to me that the bones in my finger hadn’t actually fused back together. I questioned this and said to the doctor, ‘Is it still broken?’ He said ‘Yes, but that’s OK. We’ll strap your two fingers together, as that’s what would have happened in the old days, and see if it mends.’ I knew I couldn’t work like that. Later, I asked the hand therapist if she could recommend a specialist hand surgeon. She recommended Mr Manu Sood at Spire Hartswood Hospital in Brentwood.

When I went to see Mr Manu Sood (by now, it was the following April), there was a sense of relief. I thought, ‘This guy knows what he’s doing!’ Mr Sood said he wanted to open it up and see what was there. He said there were several options: to put wires back in, maybe screws or a plate, or even to take some bone from my hip or my wrist to do a bone graft – was I happy with that? All of these seemed OK with me. I was quite happy to let him decide. He made sense.

I decided to have the operation in May. Mr Sood could have done it earlier but I chose to wait. I’d gone back to work in March and was concerned about having more time off even though my employers had been brilliant. If I had to have a bone graft, it would mean even longer off work.

We’d used Spire Hartswood before: My son and husband had both previously had operations there so I knew what to expect. I felt easier going there. I knew that, if I had to stay overnight, people would come and check on me. I had peace of mind.

On 20 May I went into The Hartswood for the surgery. I had a general anaesthetic as opposed to an arm block in case they needed to do a graft from my hip. When I came round, my arm was in a sling. I felt to see if my hip and wrist were OK and thought 'Well, they didn’t take that option'. Mr Sood had actually put in a plate, four screws and an artificial bone graft. I went home later the same day. The speed at which it was all done was great. 

Mr Sood wanted me to see the hand therapist on Wednesday to get it moving straight away. I had regular hand therapy and Mr Sood monitored the progress of the bone graft; in other words, whether it had joined to my bone. I had almost another three months off work. Then, in August, when I got back from holiday in Turkey, the last X-ray showed that my bone had indeed grown into the artificial one.

I was so relieved. I know where to go now if I have any more problems.”

The hand surgeon’s view - Mr Manu Sood, Consultant Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgeon

A fracture of one of the small bones of the hand, the finger or thumb appears to be a minor injury but can be very significantly disabling. If not treated appropriately, the fracture may result in non-union (the bone ends do not unite) or mal-union (the bones unite in an abnormal position with either an abnormal angle or rotation). This can result in pain and loss of function in the hand due to abnormal positioning of the finger. Proper treatment of a fracture of this nature requires adequate facilities and equipment, as well as intensive hand therapy in order to achieve the best outcome.

Spire Hartswood Hospital has a dedicated, multi-disciplinary hand surgery team that provides a one stop solution for problems of this nature.