So You Jammed Your Finger?

by John Indalecio
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How many times have you hurt your finger during a volleyball or basketball game, family wrestling match, or even tucking in your sheets while making the bed? Sometimes it goes away after a few days or a week. Other times you may need medical attention. If your finger can’t move like normal – if you can’t bend or straighten it with normal effort, or if you feel sharp shooting pain – you may have an injury that you can’t fix yourself.

The three cylindrical bones of the finger (the phalanges) are in line with each other and require ligaments to help them remain aligned while the tendons flex and extend the fingers. Ligaments attach bone to other bone. When a finger is jammed, the stress along the joints can cause any of these structures to fail: ligaments can tear, tendons can rupture and bones can fracture.

If the sides of your finger are red and swollen, it could be a ligament sprain of one of the collateral (side) ligaments. If it’s tender on the bottom, you may have bent your finger backwards (another ligament injury). A sprain can be mild (overstretched) to severe (a large portion is torn or completely detached). Sharp pain could signal a break.

In one common injury the tip of the finger can’t straighten out. It droops into a flexed position, and can’t straighten without help. This is called a “mallet finger” and always needs intervention from a skilled medical professional. Contact a hand surgeon (an orthopedic specialist in conditions of the upper extremity) for proper management.

It’s also good to make a mental note of the injury: date of injury, what you were doing, how it happened, what force and what angle was the force directed, and what position your finger was in during the accident. This information can help guide your treatment and recovery and avoid a similar injury in the future. Ice your finger immediately after the injury to decrease swelling and reduce pain.

If you’re having continued pain and difficulty with motion, a visit to a hand doctor is a good idea to prevent long-lasting deficits and get you back to full mobility.

John Indalecio is an occupational therapist and certified hand therapist at the Hand Therapy Center at Hospital for Special Surgery.

Topics: Basketball, Featured, Orthopedics, Rehabilitation and Fitness
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The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.

Comments

blayne says:

Hey, durimg a wrestling match an incredible series of cracks occured and my adrenaline caused me to ignore it. However it has been three days and if anything its gotten worse. I can bend it, but not fully down, or side to side with extreme pain and im not a wuss trust me. Im 15 and dont have insurance so pleasee help meee.

HSS on the Move says:

Hi Blayne, thank you for reaching out. Unfortunately, we are not able to answer your question because you are under the age of 18. It is best for you to consult with your treating physician with a parent.

brittany says:

do u know how to fix a jammed figer

HSS on the Move says:

Hi Brittany, thank you for reaching out. It is best for you to consult with your treating physician to get a better diagnosis. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

Ronelza roos says:

A cricket ball hit my finger on the inside of my hand. It”s been 2 months now still swollen and cannot bend it into fist shape. Sharp shooting pain in knuckle. X-ray shows no break and have been seeing hand specialist. They are forcing me to bend it and the pain is chronic.

HSS on the Move says:

Hi Ronelza, thank you for reaching out. It is best for you to consult with your treating physician for a better diagnosis. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

Ash skies says:

I was playing volley ball and I do not know how it jammed. The top of my finger is movable, but the bottom half is swollen and shows signs of bruises. What should I do? I have put ice when it happened, but I”m nervous.

HSS on the Move says:

Hello, thank you for reaching out. For more information on sports injuries of the hand, please visit http://www.hss.edu/conditions_sports-injuries-of-the-hand.asp. It is best for you to consult with a physician in person so they can better advise. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

Hariharan says:

My little finger injured when i played cricket. Still i have pain for more than 20 days. I”m scaring about it. Will it cure or not..

HSS on the Move says:

Hello, thank you for reaching out. For more information on finger injuries, please visit http://hss.edu/condition-list_finger-injuries.asp. If you wish to receive care at HSS, contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

Ian cooper says:

When I was playing basketball I had jammed my finger
Going for a pass.When I looked at the tip it looked bent downwards and I couldn’t bent it down its been about two weeks and the bottom of the middle part is still swollen to this day and I can’t bend it downwards an it still hurts
What happened ???

HSS on the Move says:

Hi Ian, thanks for reaching out. Occupational Therapist John Indalecio says “Sounds like something you need to see a hand doctor about. if there isn’t active motion of the joint, it could involve a tendon injury.” If you wish to receive care at HSS please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

April says:

I angrily hit a hard surface with a hammer punch with my right hand and my hand started tingling then the pain came and now it hurts to separate my middle and ring finger. My ring finger now sits closely to my middle finger and it is not swollen

HSS on the Move says:

Hi April, thanks for reaching out. For more information on hand injuries, click here: http://www.hss.edu/conditions_sports-injuries-of-the-hand.asp#.U6CGwJRdXTo. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

courtney says:

Hi there. So roughlytwo weeks ago I caught my finger in a floor fan that had the front cover off. There were plastic blades. A piece comparable to a nickel is what broke off (not into my finger though, just painting a picture of the force). The blade cut the side of my middle finger right at the middle knuckle. Instant swelling. The pain was so strong that I crawled under my bed with hotsweats because I was so uncomfortable and could barely stand. I’m not squeemish just to put that out there. About twenty minutes later I made it to the bathroom where I felt I was going to be sick (very unusual for me). I felt light headed and all I could think about was the pain and needing to make it to my bed to lie down. I didn’t get sick in the bathroom but I did end up vomiting on the carpet in my room (ten to twenty feet away, I didn’t make it to my bed). It was a good amount of puke. After that I started feeling a little better so I went to go wake up my grandfather to have him look at my finger. I was very worried something was wrong with my knuckle. I just couldn’t tell, I was a little out of it. He looked at it and to him it didn’t look broken. I finally calmed down, with pain still in my knuckle. The next day my knuckle was swollen, visibally, but not to the point where I couldn’t see my knuckle or anything like that. I could still bend it. Now some time has passed, my cut is almost healed completely, but my knuckle is still swollen (no bruising ever occurred) about the same size. If I do normal hand movements or open my hand wide to “stretch it out” I feel pain in the bone that would connect to that finger. I have to push a little but I can find the pain too my messing with my hand. My other hand has no identical pain in any of the movements. I don’t think it could be broken, I could be wrong, but I didn’t know if there was anything else, maybe fluid build up or something, that I should be aware of. I’ve thought about going to a doctor but I’m not sure its the right idea? I don’t like hospitals either. I can close and open my fist. I guess my question is, what are the realm of things that could be happening to my knuckle and maybe some simple things I can do at home to help make my knuckle get all better. The pain I feel now isn’t excruitiating. Or is it worth going to actually get it checked out?

HSS on the Move says:

Hi Courtney, thanks for reaching out. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

Raymond says:

I jammed my thumb I m 21 years old. I was playing basketball can you help me unjam it?

HSS on the Move says:

Hi Raymond, thanks for reaching out. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

moses says:

I was running around drunk and fell on my hand so i don’t remember what exactly happened. It’s been 2 weeks and the swelling has gone down and i can make a full fist and extend my fingers. It feels tight when I am extending my fingers but it seems like it’s healing but i have some odd bumps around my joint. Would it just be swelling?

HSS on the Move says:

Hi Moses, thank you for reaching out. For more information on hand injuries, visit http://www.hss.edu/conditions_sports-injuries-of-the-hand.asp. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

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