How to Buddy Tape a Finger

1
Injured Fingers need a Buddy

Fingers buddy taped
Use the widest tape possible but don't tape over the knuckles.

Finger injuries can be severe enough to require surgery or stitches. However, mild injuries to the fingers can be easily treated at home. If there is a cut or other type of open wound, determine if the injury needs stitches. If you believe it does, seek help from a doctor.

If there isn't an open wound, look to see if the finger is deformed. Again, if the finger is obviously deformed (twisted in an incorrect direction or grotesquely swollen, for example) then you should go to the emergency department. A mallet finger may sometimes be overlooked because the deformity can be subtle. If only the tip of an injured finger will not straighten all the way, see a doctor.

Finger injuries with no obvious deformity can usually be safely treated at home. To avoid aggravating the injury, immobilize it by buddy-taping.

2
Medical Cloth Tape is Perfect for Buddy Taping

cloth tape
Medical cloth tape can easily be torn in whatever width needed.

 To properly buddy tape a finger, it's best if you have medical cloth tape. Cloth tape is woven in such a way that it can be easily torn along either axis: across or lengthwise.

You can use scissors to cut the tape to just the right length if you need to. Plus, as the picture shows, you can create whatever width tape you need by starting a small tear at the end of the tape. Once you've done that, the tape will continue to come off the role in whatever width you created.

The width of the tape makes a difference in comfort and functionality.

3
Proper Buddy Taping Allows Fingers to Bend

taped fingers range of motion
Buddy taped fingers can still have range of motion.

Cut or tear each piece of tape just long enough to encircle the injured finger and the one next to it. Each finger (not the thumb) has three joints -- the places where the fingers bend -- including the knuckle. Place one piece of tape between the first and second joints and another between the second and third (see the image above).

The pieces of tape need to be as wide as possible, but still be narrow enough not to cover the joints. And they should not be so tight that they make the fingers swell, turn colors, or lose feeling (get numb). The wider the tape, the more comfortable the fingers will be.

Buddy-taping helps the injured finger stay in place and only flex or extend. The injured finger won't be able to twist or move laterally, but it can still be used to grip. The reduction in movement helps reduce inflammation.

4
Buddy Tape the Ring Finger to the Pinky

Ring fingers and pinky fingers should be buddy taped together
When the injury is a ring finger or pinky, they should be buddy taped together.

 Taping the pinky finger can be tricky because it is so much shorter than its only neighbor. However, it's best to tape ring fingers and pinky fingers together regardless which one is injured.

Putting the ring finger together with the pinky allows the first two fingers and the thumb to be used more. If you tape an injured ring finger to the middle finger, the hand loses more functionality.

To properly buddy tape ring and pinky together, you'll have to angle your tape. It's not easy and it might take a few tries to get it right. Don't be afraid to peel off a poor tape job on any finger and start over. Tape is cheap.

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