Finger Sprain

ExitCare ImageA finger sprain is a tear in one of the strong, fibrous tissues that connect the bones (ligaments) in your finger. The severity of the sprain depends on how much of the ligament is torn. The tear can be either partial or complete.

CAUSES

Often, sprains are a result of a fall or accident. If you extend your hands to catch an object or to protect yourself, the force of the impact causes the fibers of your ligament to stretch too much. This excess tension causes the fibers of your ligament to tear.

SYMPTOMS

You may have some loss of motion in your finger. Other symptoms include:

  • Bruising.

  • Tenderness.

  • Swelling.

DIAGNOSIS

In order to diagnose finger sprain, your caregiver will physically examine your finger or thumb to determine how torn the ligament is. Your caregiver may also suggest an X-ray exam of your finger to make sure no bones are broken.

TREATMENT

If your ligament is only partially torn, treatment usually involves keeping the finger in a fixed position (immobilization) for a short period. To do this, your caregiver will apply a bandage, cast, or splint to keep your finger from moving until it heals. For a partially torn ligament, the healing process usually takes 2 to 3 weeks.

If your ligament is completely torn, you may need surgery to reconnect the ligament to the bone. After surgery a cast or splint will be applied and will need to stay on your finger or thumb for 4 to 6 weeks while your ligament heals.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Keep your injured finger elevated, when possible, to decrease swelling.

  • To ease pain and swelling, apply ice to your joint twice a day, for 2 to 3 days:

  • Put ice in a plastic bag.

  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Leave the ice on for 15 minutes.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicine for pain as directed by your caregiver.

  • Do not wear rings on your injured finger.

  • Do not leave your finger unprotected until pain and stiffness go away (usually 3 to 4 weeks).

  • Do not allow your cast or splint to get wet. Cover your cast or splint with a plastic bag when you shower or bathe. Do not swim.

  • Your caregiver may suggest special exercises for you to do during your recovery to prevent or limit permanent stiffness.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your cast or splint becomes damaged.

  • Your pain becomes worse rather than better.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

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