Background: Many studies on the etiology and operative treatment of locked metacarpophalangeal joints in fingers have been reported, but there have been few investigations on manual reduction. The rate of success of manual reduction in previous reports has been low, and no consensus has been reached with regard to the best method of manual reduction. On the basis of our experience with operative treatment, we devised a safe method of manual reduction.
Methods: Between January 1987 and December 1995, we reduced a locked metacarpophalangeal joint in twelve female patients; every locked finger was successfully reduced, and complications such as fracture did not occur during manual reduction. The average duration of follow-up was five years and nine months (range, three years and two months to nine years and three months).
Results: Six patients had no recurrence of the locking. Four of the six remaining patients had one or two incidents of locking, had no alteration in the activities of daily living, and did not want operative treatment. The two remaining patients reported that they had incidents of locking several times a day, and they requested operative treatment as they were afraid of additional recurrences. One patient had an open reduction fifteen months after the initial episode of locking, and the other patient elected not to have an operation for personal reasons.
Conclusions: We believe that our method of manual reduction should be used to treat a locked metacarpophalangeal joint in a finger and that operative treatment should be limited to patients in whom manual reduction is unsuccessful or the reduction is unstable.