A sprained finger happens when a finger is bent in a way that causes damage to the ligaments which attach the bones together. It is usually common among those who engage in ball games such as basketball, football and cricket.
Indications of a sprained finger
- Pain in the finger at the time of injury
- A popping sound can be heard immediately after the injury
- Swelling and bruising of the joint
- Limited movement of the finger
- Severe or a full rupture of the ligament where the joint becomes unstable
The ligaments found at the sides of the phalanges are called collateral ligaments and these can be damaged by a sideway force such as flexing the finger sideways. A sprained finger also occurs due to hyperextension or bending back of the finger joint.
- Allow the affected finger to rest. Avoid performing activities that trigger pain on the finger such as playing sports.
- Apply an ice pack on the affected area for at least 15-20 minutes several times for 3 days to lessen the symptoms. Avoid applying the pack directly on the skin to prevent skin damage. When the ice pack is used as a compress, it should be wrapped in a piece of cloth or towel before applying on the area.
- During the first 24-48 hours, wrap the affected finger using an elastic bandage or compression bandage to lessen the swelling. When the swelling is reduced, tape the affected finger for fast healing of the damaged ligament. When playing sports and other activities, buddy tape the affected finger next to the adjacent finger for protection. If there are changes in the color such as the tip of the finger becomes blue or gray and tingling sensation, loosen the bandage.
- As soon as the pain needs mobility, start performing gentle exercises such as bending the fingers toward a full fist. Perform exercises for the finger early in the morning to prevent stiffness of the area from becoming permanent if there is no movement for an extended period of time.
- Apply heat on the affected finger for at least 15-20 minutes several times every day to increase the flow of blood in the area and lessen the stiffness and pain.
An untreated complete ligament tear makes the finger unstable and there is difficulty performing daily activities. This condition will result to persistent pain and early development of arthritis.
There is a need for surgery to repair the torn ligament where they are sewn back together. After the surgery, extensive rehabilitation for the mobility of the finger and restoring as much function as possible with the help of the physical therapist.
The material posted on this page for a sprained finger is for learning purposes only. If you want to learn to recognize and manage muscle injuries including a sprained finger, register for a first aid course with a training provider near you.