A jammed finger is a type of joint sprain that’s sustained from significant impact to the end of a finger. Jammed fingers are a common type of sports injury, especially from playing volleyball, basketball, football, and rugby. Jammed finger joints often heal without need for treatment, although specific home care approaches can speed up recovery times. In some cases, medical treatment is needed to return a jammed finger back to normal function and range of motion.
EditManaging a Jammed Finger at Home
- Make sure the injury isn’t serious. The amount of pain felt from a musculoskeletal injury is not always positively correlated to the degree of seriousness. In other words, an injury may really hurt, but it’s not always serious. A jammed finger can often be very painful initially, but it’s not nearly as serious of an injury compared to dislocated and fractured fingers. The tell-tale sign of a dislocated or badly fractured finger is some degree of crookedness; a moderate amount of swelling or bruising can also be signs of a fracture. As such, if your finger is really hurting and it’s bent at an unnatural angle or is very swollen or bruised, then seek medical attention as soon as you can. If not, then rest and home care is warranted instead.
- However, if you have severe symptoms of pain, numbness, weakness, swelling, or bruising of your finger, see your doctor right away.
- A jammed finger usually involves damage to the ligaments surrounding the finger joints and reduced movement in the affected joint due to compaction.
- A mildly jammed finger is typically categorized as a Grade I sprain, which means that the ligaments are stretched a little too far, but not torn.
- Rest your finger and be patient. Mishandling the ball in sports such as basketball, volleyball and baseball is a frequent cause of jammed fingers. If such activity caused your finger injury, then you’ll likely have to take a break from the sport — anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on severity. And depending on what your job is, you may also have miss some work or switch to an activity (short-term) that doesn’t involve your hands or fingers to any great extent. In general, sprains, strains, bruises, and most causes of inflammation respond well to short-term rest.
- In the mean time, your ability to grab and hold on to things will be hampered with a jammed finger. Typing and writing will also be difficult, especially if the injury is to your dominant hand.
- In addition to certain sports, jammed fingers also commonly occur at home — getting caught between doors, particularly.
- Apply ice to the jammed finger. The pain from a jammed finger is mostly due to inflammation, so applying cold therapy as soon as you can is smart because it slows down local circulation, reduces swelling, and numbs nerve fibers. Anything frozen will do, such as ice cubes, gel packs, or bags of vegetables (peas work great) from your freezer. Whatever you choose for cold therapy, apply it every hour for 10-15 minutes until the pain and inflammation subside. After a few days, you’ll likely be able to discontinue the use of ice therapy.
- While you’re icing your jammed finger, elevate your hand/arm with some pillows in order to help combat the effects of gravity and further help with the inflammation.
- Don’t forget to wrap anything cold in a thin towel before applying it to your finger so you don’t get ice burn or frostbite.
- Take anti-inflammatory medication short-term. Another effective way of combating inflammation and pain in your jammed finger is to take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). NSAIDs help control your body’s inflammation cascade, which reduces swelling and pain. Keep in mind that NSAIDs and other pain relievers are usually intended for short-term use only (less than 2 weeks) due to harmful side effects on the stomach, liver and kidneys. To reduce the risk of stomach irritation and/or ulcers, it’s best not to take NSAIDs on an empty stomach.
- Aspirin should not be given to children under 18, due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome, whereas ibuprofen is not appropriate for infants under six months.
- If you don’t have access to any NSAIDs, then taking painkillers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be helpful for a jammed finger also, but painkillers don’t reduce inflammation.
- As an alternative to taking any pills, consider applying an anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving cream or gel to your jammed finger joint. The cream or gel will absorb locally and eliminate the risk of any stomach problems.
- Buddy tape the injured finger. While your jammed finger is healing, consider taping it to an adjacent finger (commonly referred to as “buddy taping”) for more stability and protection from further injury. Choose some medical-grade tape and bind your injured finger to the finger beside it that’s most similar in size. Be careful not to tape too firmly, otherwise you’ll create additional swelling and may even cut off blood circulation to the injured finger. Consider placing some cotton gauze between the fingers to prevent skin blisters.
- If you don’t have any medical tape, then masking tape, self-adherent wrap, electricians tape, a small Velcro wrap or rubber bandage may also suffice.
- To provide a little more support for your jammed finger, you can use a wooden or aluminum splint along with the tape. Aluminum splints can be custom fit and bent to accommodate most finger injuries.
EditGetting Treatment for a Jammed Finger
- Consult with your family physician. If rest, immobilization and other home remedies aren’t effective for reducing the pain, swelling, or stiffness in your injured finger after a week, then make an appointment with your doctor. Instead of a jammed finger, you might have a small hairline or stress fracture in the long bones of your finger, or an avulsion fracture closer to the joint. Avulsion fractures occur when a sprained ligament tears a piece of bone from its attachment site. If your finger is broken, then your doctor will usually fasten a metal splint to it with instructions to keep it on for a few weeks.
- You doctor can take x-rays of your hand and check for evidence of fractures and other disease conditions that can cause pain, such as osteoarthritis (the wear and tear type), osteoporosis (brittle bones), or bone infection.
- Keep in mind that small hairline fractures don’t usually show up on x-rays until the swelling goes away.
- An MRI may be needed to better see the condition of tendons, ligaments, and cartilage in and around your inured finger.
- See an osteopath or chiropractor. Osteopaths and chiropractors are joint specialists who focus on restoring normal motion and function to spinal and peripheral joints, including those of the hands and fingers. If your finger joint is truly jammed or even slightly dislocated, then an osteopath or chiropractor can use a technique called manual joint manipulation (or an adjustment) to unjam or reposition the affected joint. You can often hear a “popping” or “cracking” sound with an adjustment, which often provides immediate relief and improved joint mobility.
- Although a single joint adjustment can sometimes completely relieve your finger pain and restore full range of motion to the jammed joint, more than likely it will take a few treatments to notice significant improvement.
- Manual joint manipulation is not advised if fractures, infections, or inflammatory (rheumatoid) arthritis is involved.
- Get a referral to an orthopedist. If symptoms persist or worsen, or if full mobility does not return to your jammed finger within one to two weeks, then get a referral to an orthopedic surgeon. Orthopedists are also joint specialists, but they use injections and surgery to treat problematic joint injuries that are stubborn to heal. If it turns out that your finger is broken and doesn’t heal normally, you may require minor surgery. Alternatively, an injection of steroid medication near or into injured ligaments and/or tendons can quickly reduce inflammation and allow normal, unrestricted movement of your finger.
- The most common types of steroids used are prednisolone, dexamethasone, and triamcinolone.
- Potential complications associated with corticosteroid injections of the hand include infection, tendon weakening, local muscle atrophy, and nerve irritation or damage.
- Some athletes are tempted to self-treat their jammed fingers by pulling on them in hopes of unjamming the joints, but physical manipulation should be left to experienced health professionals.
- Taping your fingers prior to playing sports may help prevent jammed or sprained fingers.
- Chronically cracking your knuckles may damage the joints and surrounding soft tissues and make them more susceptible to injury.
- When you first get the injury ice you finger, once the swelling and bruising goes away start to use heat.
- Treat a Broken Finger
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