Do I have a Jammed or Broken Finger?
Anyone who’s played basketball has been there: You’re dribbling, attempting a steal or going for a rebound, and the ball deflects awkwardly off one of your fingers. Often, the pain is manageable. You may have only slightly sprained (or “jammed”) your finger. But this type of mishap can be more serious, when the finger bone fractures. In this blog post, Dr. Brandon P. Donnelly discusses the differences between a basketball-related jammed or broken finger.
How to Treat Sprains
The best approach to dealing with this sort of injury is the familiar “RICE” method used on any trauma-induced swelling. Players should rest, ice, compress and elevate the limb. Icing and elevating, which draws blood away from the sprained finger, reduces swelling more quickly. Symptoms typically begin to fade in a few days.
Mild or moderate sprains often respond well to taping, where the injured finger is wrapped together with an adjacent healthy finger. Called “buddy taping,” this both protects the finger and encourages straightening. For more serious sprains, use the RICE method for 48 hours before taping, so swelling can subside.
What NOT to Do with a Sprain
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.
“One of the most common on-court 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.”Brandon P. Donnelly, MD
Determining if a Finger is Broken
Broken fingers typically look different. Rather than painful swelling, the finger will appear to be out of alignment, or even completely dislocated. This injury involves joints and bones in the finger, and requires medical attention to ensure proper healing.
Otherwise, the symptoms for broken or sprained fingers are actually quite similar. They’re just more intense for those suffering from a break. This pain can be disabling in the immediate aftermath of a basketball injury. Most breaks make the fingers nearly impossible to straighten or use without some form of extreme pain.
How to Treat a Broken Finger
An X-ray will be required to properly evaluate the extent of a broken finger. Treatment depends on the type of fracture, which bones are injured, and the stability of the finger. If the fracture is stable, treatment may be as simple as “buddy taping” one finger to another.
Surgical options range from pinning the bones with small wires to open procedures using plates and screws to properly align and secure the bones in place.
If a ligament is completely torn, surgery may also be required. The connective tissue will be repaired, followed by a period of recovery that involves immobilizing the finger. This minimizes the risk of an unstable joint, or misaligned fingers. The doctor will then apply a cast or splint, which will need to remain in place for a period of weeks. Buddy taping will again be used after the splint or cast is removed.
“Treatment depends on the type of fracture, which bones are injured, and the stability of the finger. “Brandon P. Donnelly, MD
Think You have a Jammed or Broken Finger?
Early diagnosis is important in the successful treatment of finger fractures. If you suspect you have fractured your finger, schedule an appointment for an evaluation. We can accurately diagnose your pain and treat your injured finger quickly and effectively.
This site is not intended to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Through this website and links to other websites, Brandon P. Donnelly, MD provides general information for educational purposes only. The content provided in this website and links, is not a substitute for medical care or treatment. You should not use this information in place of a consultation or the advice of your healthcare provider. Brandon P. Donnelly, MD is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site.