Finger Fracture

Thumbnail image of: Finger Fracture: Illustration

What is a finger fracture?

A finger fracture is a crack or break of a bone in your finger.

What is the cause?

A finger fracture usually happens from hitting a hard object with the finger, being hit by a ball, getting a finger slammed in a door, or falling onto your hand.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • pain, swelling, bruising, or tenderness
  • trouble moving the finger
  • a crooked looking finger

How is it diagnosed?

Your provider will ask about your symptoms and how the injury happened. He or she will examine you. You will have X-rays of your finger.

How is it treated?

The treatment depends on the type of fracture. If the broken bone is crooked, your healthcare provider will straighten it. You will be given medicine first so the straightening is not painful. Sometimes surgery is needed to put the bones back into the correct position.

Your healthcare provider may put the finger in a splint. Depending on the type of fracture the splint may be put on the bottom of the finger or the top. Your provider will decide if the finger should be kept straight or slightly bent. You will need to wear the splint for 3 to 6 weeks, depending on the injury.

Some finger fractures don't need to be splinted. They only need to be taped to the finger next to the injured finger (called buddy taping).

How can I take care of myself?

Follow the full course of treatment your healthcare provider prescribes. Also:

  • To keep swelling down and help relieve pain, your healthcare provider may tell you to:
    • Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth on the injured area every 3 to 4 hours for up to 20 minutes at a time for the first day or two after the injury.
    • Keep the injured hand up on pillows when you sit or lie down.
    • Take pain medicine, such as ibuprofen, as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.

When your finger has been in a splint, it may get stiff and the muscles get weaker. After the splint is removed, your healthcare provider or physical therapist may recommend exercises to help your finger get stronger and more flexible. Follow your provider’s instructions for doing exercises.

Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests. Call your healthcare provider right away if:

  • You have more pain, redness, warmth, or swelling.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a loss of feeling in the injured area.
  • The injured area looks pale or blue or feels cold.

How long will the effects last?

It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for a broken finger to heal. Sometimes it may take weeks or months for the swelling to go away, and in some cases the finger may stay swollen. Some fingers are crooked after the fracture heals. However, most simple finger fractures heal without any problems. If the fracture goes into a joint your finger may keep feeling stiff and lose some flexibility.

When can I return to my normal activities?

Everyone recovers from an injury at a different rate. Return to your activities depends on how soon your finger recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury has occurred. The goal of rehabilitation is to return to your normal activities as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury.

You may return to your normal activities when your finger has full range of motion without pain and has the same strength as the uninjured side. You may be able to participate in some activities while wearing a splint or while your finger is buddy-taped.

How can a finger fracture be prevented?

Most finger fractures happen from accidents that are not easy to prevent.

Written by Pierre Rouzier, MD for RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2012.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-01-30
Last reviewed: 2012-01-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2012 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.