A broken finger happens when one or more of the bones in the fingers called phalanges break. Each finger has 3 phalanges, except the thumb which has only 2 phalanges. The injury is usually caused by an injury to the hand and can happen in any phalanges such as a fall while playing sports, fingers caught in the doors of cars and other injuries on the fingers. This condition can also happen in the knuckles where the joints and bones of the finger meet.
A broken finger is categorized into the following:
- Avulsion fracture where the ligament or tendon moves away from the main bone
- Impacted fracture is a break in the bone due to trauma and twisting caused by muscle spasms
- Shear fracture where the bone splits in 2 when moving in 2 different directions.
Symptoms of a broken finger
- Pain felt at the affected area
- Within the next 5-10 minutes, there is bruising and swelling on the affected area
- If the fracture is severe, bruising from the leakage blood can be seen
- Swelling that becomes severe will result to numbness of the finger due to the compressed nerves in the area.
- Apply an ice pack on the affected finger. Wrap the ice pack in a small towel and apply on the affected finger to lessen the bruising and swelling. Avoid applying an ice pack directly on the skin to prevent frostbite and making the condition worse.
- Elevate the affected finger above the level of the heart to lessen the swelling and bleeding.
- Remove any jewelry on the fingers before the area swells to prevent difficulty in removing these items.
- Immobilize the affected finger with a splint to prevent unnecessary movement and for fast healing of the area. Use a medical tape to wrap the stick and the finger. Avoid wrapping too tightly to prevent any disruption of the blood circulation and making the condition worse.
- If there is an open wound on the finger, seek medical help immediately to prevent any infection that can be caused by bacteria that enters the wound.
- Avoid using the affected finger while still in the healing process such as bathing, eating, and picking up objects. Avoid any unnecessary movement or disturbance of the splint for fast healing of the area
- Start moving the fingers gently when it is already out of the splint to prevent making the area stiff.
- Seek the help of a physical therapist for some rehabilitation exercises for the hand to keep the fingers moving and restore mobility.
The details posted on this page on broken finger is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage bone injuries including a broken finger enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.