Five Steps to Treating a Jammed Finger

How to Diagnose and Treat a Jammed Finger

Senior woman rubbing knuckles, cropped
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You may know that a jammed finger refers to finger joint pain and swelling from an impact injury of a single or multiple fingers. Jammed fingers are extremely painful, and require immediate treatment to aid healing. What's more, if jammed fingers are not addressed immediately, they may mask further damage such as fractures or dislocations.

Step One: Ice the Jammed Finger

The first step to treating such an injury is icing the injury and elevating the affected finger.

Ice the injury with an ice pack, or if using frozen vegetables, wrap them with a towel first, and then proceed to ice the injury for 15-minute intervals, removing the ice and waiting until the finger returns to a normal temperature before icing again. Repeat the process but be sure not to ice more than 3-15 minute intervals in any hour. 

Step Two: Test the Finger for Movement and Range of Motion

If the finger doesn't move easily or the pain gets worse, see a physician and have an x-ray to determine if there is a bone fracture or dislocation that needs to be corrected. After the swelling decreases and the pain subsides, try to move the finger very slightly. If the injury is mild, you will be able to move with little discomfort over a short time.​

Step Three: Tape the Finger and Rest

If you've determined that the jammed finger is a minor injury, tape the finger to the finger next to it and try to rest.

It's important to use medical grade tape and use place a piece of gauze in between the fingers to stave off blisters and moisture while you heal. You may also consider a stint should your regular doctor suggest one to keep the finger aligned with the rest of your fingers and allow for protection for further injury.

 

Step Four: See a Chiropractor or Osteopath

Physical therapy exercises are helpful to get a full recovery. However, you may start with checking with a chiropractor or osteopath to be sure that healing is going as it should be. Whether it was a serious or minor injury, you may favor the finger that was previously hurt which may create more problems down the road. One of these specialists can ensure that the healing finger is maintaining proper range of motion, movement, and circulation. They may also be able to offer next steps should there be bad news about the jammed finger.

Step Five: Use It or Lose It

Once you've done your due diligence making sure that everything is in line with your healing finger, try to use it normally so that it returns to its strength and ability. If you don't use it, you may lose strength in the healing finger, or start to cause imbalances in your other fingers that could threaten injury. Most jammed fingers heal completely if there is no fracture or dislocation.

If there is a fracture or dislocation, it can take months to heal. Pain may last months and the injured joint may be larger than those of uninjured fingers for even longer. 

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