How to fix a jammed finger

Basketballs or volleyballs are common culprits of the blunt force.

Jammed fingers happen when a blunt force strikes the end of a finger.  Basketballs or volleyballs are common culprits of the blunt force. The ligament at the finger’s middle knuckle hyperextends (stretches beyond normal) and becomes stretched or torn. The finger can appear bruised, red or swollen. It may be bent or crooked, or it might be difficult to bend the finger or grasp objects.

How to fix a jammed finger

There is no quick way to ‘fix’ a jammed finger.

Unfortunately, a coach can’t pull a jammed finger out. The tendon has been injured and needs time to heal.

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Symptoms of a jammed finger depend on the severity of the injury. Unless there is reason to suspect a broken bone, a jammed finger can be treated at home.

  • Immobilize the finger. There are two ways to do this:
    • “Buddy tape” by taping the injured finger and an adjacent finger together. This protects the jammed finger while also improving its range of motion by allowing  the uninjured finger to take the bulk of the stress and movement to allow the injured finger to heal.
    • Temporary splinting of the finger for one to two days may be appropriate if moving the finger is very painful and/or a fracture has not been ruled out. Use caution: If there is no break, splinting for longer than a day or two can negatively affect the joint’s long-term healing and range of motion.
  • Stay on the sidelines. Don’t do anything that may reinjure the finger or make it worse such as pulling on the finger.
  • Ice the finger. Applying ice for five to 10 minutes every few hourswhile performing small flexion/extension movements, as tolerated, can decrease inflammation and dull pain.
  • Take anti-inflammatory pain medication, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve), as needed.
  • Rehabilitation, can help strengthen the surrounding areas of the injured joint/ligament to help prevent future injury and assist in returning the finger to pre-injury functionality.

When to see a doctor for a jammed finger

If you believe the blunt force was enough to break the finger or there is a deformity see a medical provider. They might need to X-ray the area. If the finger is crooked or bent, don’t try to straighten it out. If symptoms such as pain and swelling fade but there is still a limited range of motion, there might be a partial dislocation. You might benefit from seeing a hand surgeon so you can be sure everything is treated and healing properly.

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