You might think a broken finger is a minor injury, but without proper treatment it can cause major problems. The bones in a normal hand line up precisely, letting you perform many specialized functions like grasping a pen or manipulating small objects in your palm. When you fracture a finger bone, it can put your whole hand out of alignment. Without treatment, your broken finger might stay stiff and painful.
A finger fracture is caused by trauma to the finger. Trauma includes:
Risk factors that increase your chances of fracturing your finger include:
If you think you've broken your finger, tell your doctor right away exactly what happened and when. You have three bones (phalanges) in each finger and two in each thumb. Your doctor must determine not only which bone fractured, but also how it broke: straight across, in a spiral, into several pieces, or shattered completely.
Your doctor may want to see how your fingers line up when you extend your hand or make a fist. Does any finger overlap its neighbour, angle in the wrong direction, or look too short? Your doctor may order x-rays of both hands for comparison.
Your doctor will put your broken bone back into place, usually without surgery. Sometimes you need pins, screws, or wire to hold it together, especially if you have a complicated injury. You’ll get a splint or cast to hold your finger straight and protect it from further injury while it heals. Your doctor may splint the fingers next to the fractured one for support. Your doctor will tell you how long to wear the splint—usually about three weeks. Sometimes you may need more x-rays as you heal so your doctor can check your progress.
Begin using your hand again as soon as your doctor determines it is okay to move your finger. Doing simple rehabilitation exercises each day will help reduce the finger’s stiffness and swelling. You may be required to see a physical therapist to assist you in these exercises.
To help prevent finger fractures:
The key to improving sports performance after recovering from a fractured finger is a proper rehabilitation program, and adhering to some of those same principles after the injury is gone.
Here are some simple steps to improve your performance:
As an athlete, your number one concern is getting back to full strength as soon as possible so that you can return to training and competition. That is why appropriate rehabilitation is extremely important. Rehabilitation for a fractured finger often includes the following:
Rehabilitation for a fractured finger is a matter of following prescribed treatment until symptoms disappear. You may be required to wear a splint or cast until the bone heals. However, the following exercises may aid in restoring strength and range of motion to the injured hand once the finger is healed.
Once the bones of the finger are realigned (if needed), you will need to wear a splint or cast for 3 to 6 weeks. After this period you may begin the rehabilitation exercises to bring back strength and range of motion.
It may take a month or more to return to competition, depending on the severity of the disruption of the joint.
Remember: The goal of rehabilitation is to return you to your sport or activity as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury, which could lead to permanent damage. Return to your activity is determined by how soon your fractured finger recovers and full range of motion is restored, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury occurred.