When we think of jammed fingers, the first thing that comes to mind is usually pain.
But sometimes the injury can be caused by something as simple as a fall on an outstretched hand or arm – which means there’s no pain at all!
So what happens when you jam your finger?
How can you tell if your jammed finger needs medical attention?
This article laid out some guidelines.
What is a Jammed Finger?
Jammed fingers are the most common type of finger injury.
They occur when a finger is jammed in an object or caught between two objects and bent backward, as opposed to being broken at the joint.
Jammed fingers can be very painful and may lead to permanent damage if not treated soon enough.
What are the symptoms of a jammed finger?
A jammed finger is a painful condition that can occur when one of your fingers is injured.
The symptoms of a jammed finger can vary depending on how severe the injury is.
However, there are some common symptoms that can help you diagnose the condition yourself.
- Pain in the finger, which may be intense or dull
- Tenderness on the tip of the affected finger, which feels like it is a single bony knob
- Bruising on the finger
- Swelling in the finger joint, which can take up to 12 hours to develop
Sometimes, the bones of the finger may get out of alignment.
This is called a mallet fracture and can happen in several different ways:
A direct blow to the tip of the finger can cause fractures in the tip of the bone on both sides.
This is called a Smith’s fracture. A direct blow to the knuckle can cause an oblique, or slanting, fracture
When this type of injury occurs, it is not possible to tell which bone is fractured.
Fractures of the middle and/or ring fingers can be caused by jamming or “catching” the finger while it is bent back away from the palm of the hand.
What should you do if you think you have a jammed finger?
If you think you might have a jammed finger, it is best to assess the degree of pain and swelling to get an idea of what to do next.
In general, here’s what to do for a jammed finger:
- Elevate your hand, if possible. If needed, apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel to reduce pain
- Elevate the finger to decrease swelling. If the finger is not elevated, it may become more swollen and harder to treat
- Apply a splint or brace, if available.
- If the pain is too much and you cannot stand the pain, seek medical attention in a clinic or emergency room.
After you have been seen by a doctor, follow his or her medical advice for treatment.
If your finger is not splinted or braced, you should avoid using it as much as possible.
Diagnosis of a jammed finger
A physician will diagnose a jammed finger by taking an X-ray of the finger to see if there are any broken bones.
If there are no fractures, treatment will involve rest and pain medications.
If there are fractures, follow-up X-rays can be used to assess the healing of the bone. Sometimes, surgery is required.
Jammed Finger Treatment
The three most common treatment options for a jammed finger are:
- First aid, such as cold packs and elevation
- Splinting or buddy taping the injured finger to another adjacent uninjured one
- Taking anti-inflammatory medications or pain relievers
If there is a fracture, it might be necessary to take a break from sporting or other activities that might cause the finger to be jammed again.
How long does it take a jammed finger to heal?
The time it takes to heal varies depending on many factors, such as the severity of the injury and whether or not there is a fracture.
It may take up a week or two for a jammed finger to heal, especially if there is a fracture.
When to seek medical care for a jammed finger?
If you experience any of the following, it is probably time to contact your primary care physician or an emergency room:
- You cannot bend the finger in any direction
- The swelling and pain in the finger is severe
- There is a deformity or bump at the tip of your injured finger
- You cannot move your finger
- Broken finger
- You have symptoms such as severe pain, numbness, tingling, or a dropping sensation
A physician will diagnose the injury and recommend a treatment plan.
Jamming a finger is a common injury that can result from various activities.
Symptoms of a jammed finger include pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness to the touch, and limited range of motion.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is best to seek medical attention.
Our team of experienced Emergency Physicians will provide you with the best possible care.
A first aid to treat a jammed finger may involve cold packs and elevation, splinting or buddy taping the injured finger to
another adjacent uninjured one, and taking anti-inflammatory medications or pain relievers. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.