The phalanges are the bones that make up the toes of the cat. They connect to each metacarpal/metatarsal bone and form the digits of the foot. In all except the first digit (the equivalent of the thumb where there are two bones), there are three phalanges per toe: the proximal phalanx connects to the metatarsus/metacarpus, the middle phalanx lies in between the proximal and distal phalanges, and the distal phalanx, to which the claw is attached.
The most common signs of a fracture of a phalanx include: sudden swelling on the paw, reluctance to bear weight on the paw and pain when it is palpated.
In order to properly diagnose a fracture, the veterinary surgeon may need to sedate your cat in order to take X-rays and assess the extent of the fracture.
In general, most phalangeal fractures in cats are non-surgical. Either a splint can be placed or more commonly cage rest will be advised. Healing will take several weeks. Due to the small size of the bones, surgery is precluded in most cats. If there is a lot of trauma to the paw and the phalanges then surgical removal of the affected bones may be necessary. Digit amputation can be considered in severe, chronic or non-healing fractures.
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