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Broken Finger - Symptoms, Diagnosis, Healing time, Treatment

Updated on November 29, 2013

Broken Finger Images

We need our fingers to help us accomplish loads of tasks. Without our fingers it would be entirely impossible for us to get something done. In fact, these can be considered among the most overused parts of the body. There can be not a day that we do not use our fingers. These fingers must be pretty tired. We should understand that our fingers are sensitive and these could get easily injured with bruises, contusions, dislocations and fractures. By further understanding the anatomy of the finger, it would seem easier for us to determine the underlying causes of a broken finger. The fingers are generally composed of ligaments, tendons and phalanges. You cannot find muscles in the hands and fingers. The movement of the fingers is only made possible with the pull exerted by the muscles in the forearms which also gives movement to the tendons.


It would be somewhat hard to tell whether or not you have a broken finger. You are not entirely sure of the sensations in your finger and these might mislead you of having a broken finger. The following are the symptoms that may accompany a broken finger:

  • Pain - This is the initial and the most common sensation felt when you have broken fingers. Just moments or seconds after the trauma or injury, this can already be felt.
  • Deformities - At the impacted area, deformities are usually visible along with the painful sensation.
  • Limited Range of Motion - Though you’ve got your finger broken, it would still be possible to move it. However, the range of motion may be limited and this is usually accompanied with pain. This would somehow depend on the severity of the fracture. A badly fractured finger may be devoid of any movement.
  • Swelling and bruising - These are the result of the trauma and impact on the site. Swelling and bruising normally appear just within five to ten minutes after the injury. A fracture to a finger will also cause the other fingers to swell.
  • Numbness - This commonly occurs due to the nerve compression caused by trauma.
  • Discolored fingernail - The fingernail gets discolored especially if the injury or the fracture occurs at the distal phalanx.
  • Exposure of broken bones - When you have fractured your finger badly, broken bones are likely to come out especially in the case of a compound fracture.

It is never advised to treat broken finger at home. Prompt medical treatment should be sought especially when there’s an exposed part of the bone or when there is numbness over the area. This is especially true if there is presence of lacerations. The patient should rush to the nearest emergency department so that medical interventions can be rendered. Even when you are not sure if you sustain a fracture, it is still crucial to seek for medical attention.


A broken finger is usually diagnosed through X-ray and imaging. The x-ray would be able to determine any fractures in the continuity of the bone. The expertise of a bone specialist may also be required especially if the injury is complicated.


Only medical professionals have the faculties to treat a broken finger. What an ordinary individual can do is to only minimize the pain and prevent further fracture of the bone.

First Aid Relief

Ice pack application - This would help relieve the pain and reduce the swelling. Do not forget to wrap the pack with towel. Apply ice pack over the affected area for about 15 to 20 minutes and this should not be applied for over 30 minutes to avoid rebound effect. This can be done three to four times daily with 2 to 3 hours interval.

Splint - You can make an improvised splint to immobilize the area. Use a Popsicle stick or cut a cardboard to help immobilize the area. Look for a clean piece of cloth to hold the Popsicle in place.

Do not also forget to keep the area elevated so as to prevent the pooling of blood on the affected area.

Medical Treatment

Buddy Taping - This is done by an orthopedic specialist when the fracture is not as bad. In this procedure, the broken finger is splinted to another unaffected finger for about four weeks to keep it immobilized. There will also be additional two weeks buddy taping to limit the range of motion of the broken finger.

Wire Pinning - When the fracture is complex, the surgeon has to perform some forms of surgery and attach pins or wires to the fractured finger.

Healing time

Complications are less likely to occur in finger fractures. The average healing time for finger fractures in children is about four weeks and six weeks for adults. However, this may also depend on treatment compliance and other factors. Keep in mind that the best way to speedily heal a broken finger is to keep it stable and immobilized.


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