Here’s How to Tell If Your Finger is Broken

Index Finger in Brace

We use our hands for so much, it's not surprising that injuries like fractured and jammed fingers are common. After the initial incident that caused the injury — a bad catch during a ballgame, an awkward fall, or slamming a door — comes the question: Is my finger broken, or just jammed? Here are a few tips on determining if your finger is jammed or broken. Remember, only a medical professional can diagnose your injury accurately, so always schedule an appointment with a doctor after an accident. 

What Causes a Broken Finger?

Your fingers are one of the easiest parts of your body to break. You can break bones in your fingers by using tools, such as hammers and nails, etc., slamming them in a door, or catching a ball. One of the easiest ways to break your fingers is by bracing yourself when you fall and sticking your hands out in an attempt to catch yourself.

Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Finger

Broken fingers are hard to ignore. There is usually an intense pain after the incident and potentially a deformed finger. Here are some of the most common symptoms to watch out for if you think you have a broken finger.

Swelling, Stiffness, and Bruising. Typically within five to ten minutes, you’ll experience swelling of your finger. You may also experience stiffness in the joint as you try to bend it, depending on the intensity of the fracture.

Numbness. If your finger is numb that means the nerves in your finger are being compressed. This may be due to swelling along with a severe fracture.

Exposed Bone. If you can see your finger bone through your skin, the bone is definitely broken. You should go to the emergency room immediately.

Common Types of Fractures In a Broken Finger

A "broken bone" is actually the same thing as a fracture, and there are several types of fractures possible when your finger is injured.

Avulsion Fracture. The ligament and tendon that is attached to the bone pull away from the main bone in your finger.

Impacted Fracture. The broken ends of the bone move into each other.

Shear Fracture. The bone splits into two pieces that move away from each other.

Open Fracture. The bone is exposed through your skin.

Closed Fracture. The bone breaks, but your skin is intact.

Non-displaced/Stable Fracture. The bone will crack slightly or completely, but it doesn’t move.

Displaced Fracture. The bone breaks in place and cannot line up again.

Comminuted Fracture. The bone breaks in three or more places.

Broken Finger Treatment Options

At Home Treatment Before You Go to the Doctor. If you believe your finger may be broken, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor. You should also take care of your finger with these simple first-aid tips.

  • Do not try to set the bone yourself, or push the exposed bone back into the skin. If the bone of your finger is visible, go to the emergency room immediately.
  • Stabilize your finger by creating a splint. You can do this with any firm object, such as a popsicle stick. Tape your finger or fingers around the popsicle stick to make sure they are stabilized.
  • Apply an ice compress to your finger(s). Make sure to put a paper towel or washcloth in between the ice and your finger on your way to the emergency room.

Treatment at the Doctor’s Office. At the doctor’s office, you will get an X-Ray to determine the type of fracture and where it is in your finger. After this, your treatment will depend on the type of fracture you have. Some treatments are as easy as taping two fingers together and forming a splint. Other procedures may require surgery. This really depends on the stability of your finger and how intense the fracture is.

Follow-Up Procedures. If you are in a splint after seeing the doctor, it is important not to disturb or move your splint. Make sure to keep it clean and keep it elevated so it can heal properly. Try not to use the injured hand as much, it may cause stress and pain if you overuse your injured finger. Listen to your doctor and take any follow-up appointment seriously.

If you or a loved one is in need of medical attention, do not hesitate to contact us. We are ready and able to assist you with any of your needs.