Finger Dislocation

ExitCare ImageFinger dislocation is the displacement of bones in your finger at the joints. Most commonly, finger dislocation occurs at the proximal interphalangeal joint (the joint closest to your knuckle). Very strong, fibrous tissues (ligaments) and joint capsules connect the three bones of your fingers.


Dislocation is caused by a forceful impact. This impact moves these bones off the joint and often tears your ligaments.


Symptoms of finger dislocation include:

  • Deformity of your finger.

  • Pain, with loss of movement.


Finger dislocation is diagnosed with a physical exam. Often, X-ray exams are done to see if you have associated injuries, such as bone fractures.


Finger dislocations are treated by putting your bones back into position (reduction) either by manually moving the bones back into place or through surgery. Your finger is then kept in a fixed position (immobilized) with the use of a dressing or splint for a brief period.

When your ligament has to be surgically repaired, it needs to be kept in a fixed position with a dressing or splint for 1 to 2 weeks. Because joint stiffness is a long-term complication of finger dislocation, hand exercises or physical therapy to increase the range of motion and to regain strength is usually started as soon as the ligament is healed. Exercises and therapy generally last no more than 3 months.


The following measures can help to reduce pain and speed up the healing process:

  • Rest your injured joint. Do not move until instructed otherwise by your caregiver. Avoid activities similar to the one that caused your injury.

  • Apply ice to your injured joint for the first day or 2 after your reduction or as directed by your caregiver. Applying ice helps to reduce inflammation and pain.

  • Put ice in a plastic bag.

  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Leave the ice on for 15-20 minutes at a time, every 2 hours while you are awake.

  • Elevate your hand above your heart as directed by your caregiver to reduce swelling.

  • Take over-the-counter or prescription medicine for pain as your caregiver instructs you.


  • Your dressing or splint becomes damaged.

  • Your pain becomes worse rather than better.

  • You lose feeling in your finger, or it becomes cold and white.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.