Have You Suffered A
Jammed Finger?

Do you have a jammed finger, also known as a finger sprain? If you’ve injured your finger, you need to know what to do next. What is the best treatment for this condition and what can you do to relieve your finger joint pain?



What is a Jammed Finger?

Fingers are comprised of three different joints. Each joint is supported by ligaments, called collateral ligaments. On the palm aspect of the joint is a structure called the volar plate. A jammed finger is generally a sprain or injury to one of these ligaments.


finger anatomy


As with all sprains, the severity of the injury can vary. First degree sprains are mild involving a stretch but no tear of a ligament. A second degree sprain is a partial but not complete tear of a ligament. And a third degree sprain is a complete rupture of the ligament. In such cases of complete ligament ruptures the finger generally becomes dislocated.

With first time dislocations it is not uncommon for a small piece of bone to be torn off along with the ligament. This type of fracture is called an avulsion fracture.



Typical Causes and Symptoms

The most common cause of a jammed finger is direct force on the tip of the finger. For athletes, the classic injury is having a basketball or volleyball hit right on the tip of the finger.

The most commons signs and symptoms of a finger sprain includes immediate finger joint pain, swelling, and limited motion. If a complete rupture of the ligaments occurs, the finger will look crooked and out of place. This is an indication of a finger dislocation.


Recommended Treatment

If you are like many athletes, one of the most common recommendations for an acute finger sprain is to “pull it out”. This should not be done. Pulling on any joint could create further stress on a newly injured ligament.

If you have any deformity or if you suspect that the finger is dislocated, get an x-ray of the finger to determine if there is a fracture or avulsion fracture.

As with any acute injury, the use of ice therapy is recommended to reduce pain and swelling. Because the joints of the finger are small, the use of ice massage is an effective means of icing. To use ice massage, fill a Styrofoam cup with water and freeze it. Peel off the top of the cup and massage the exposed ice over the joint for 5 minutes.

During the early stages of healing, limiting motion is necessary to reduce ligament stress. To help protect the joint, the easiest means is to use buddy taping. This is done by simply taping the finger to the next finger to help splint and support it.

finger buddy taping


Finger sprains generally take six to eight weeks to heal. This does not mean that you cannot resume activity before it completely heals. Doing light range of motion exercises as swelling and pain improves will help to reduce stiffness. And as joint mobility, pain, and swelling improve you can then eliminate the buddy taping.

A jammed finger is a common athletic injury. Treat this injury correctly and you’ll be back at the top of your game in no time.



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