How To Treat A Jammed Finger Quickly?

How To Treat A Jammed Finger Quickly
How To Treat A Jammed Finger Quickly

Ever got a swollen finger during a game of basketball or volleyball? Or ever got your finger squeezed in a door by mistake? The pain is excruciating. Isn’t it?

Not sure if it’s an injury requiring a run to the hospital? You definitely must read on to find out if your injury is something to be treated at home or not.

What Is A Jammed Finger?

A jammed finger is a sprain caused to the joint capsule of the inter-phalangeal joint. In simpler terms, it is the swelling of the knuckles.

A jammed finger is a very common sports injury. A direct hit to a straight finger on the tip is the main cause of such an injury.

Symptoms Of A Jammed Finger

Common symptoms include pain, swelling of the knuckles, and immobility of the finger. Depending on the severity of the hit the finger may also appear larger as compared to other fingers.

Jammed Or Fractured?

Initially, a jammed finger and a fracture may look the same, but the latter needs to be spotted and given special care by the doctor. One should immediately seek medical help if they see the following symptoms.

  • Numbness:

It happens when the swelling causes the nerves to compress. Numbness after the accident is normal but if it persists then it can be an indication of a broken bone.

  • Exposed bone, bruises and sharp pain:

If one sees an exposed bone, obviously it a reason to run for medical help. However, if not then try moving the finger in each direction. If there is a sharp pinching pain and the swelling does not deteriorate even after 10-15 minutes then it sure is a broken bone.

In a jammed finger, there will be pain and swelling too, but they will deteriorate after some 15-20 minutes or an hour or two depending on the force of impact. The finger might also regain mobility.

But in the case of a fracture, there is stiffness and loss of mobility. The person may encounter a pinching pain or numbness and the area may become very red ranging from purple to blue.

How To Treat Jammed Fingers?

The most common method to treat jammed fingers is the RICE method:

1. Rest:

This is a very obvious step to be taken. You should give the injured finger ample rest and avoid moving it or involving it in any activity that might strain it further. Giving strain to the injured finger only delays the healing process.

2. Ice:

Applying ice is the best way to reduce swelling and ice packs should be administered every now and then over the injured finger. Also, remember not to apply ice directly to the skin. Always have some sort of material in between.

3. Compress:

To give the injured finger support, you can splint it with an adjacent neighbour finger. Just tape the two together and you are all set. Or you can also splint the injured finger to a support commonly found at home like a spatula or a really hard paper.

Just put the material to be used as a splint next to the injured finger, bend it a little and see if the injured finger is in a resting position and stabilised. Now just tape them together and you have your splint ready.

Remember not to tape them too tightly and look if the finger starts to become cold or numb. If this happens you will have to re-do your splint, less tightly this time.

Remember not to tape them too tightly and look if the finger starts to become cold or numb. If this happens you will have to re-do your splint, less tightly this time.

4. Elevate:

It is advised to keep the injured limb above the heart to control the swelling and avoid a risk of internal bleeding.

5. Use warm water:

After you have kept your finger elevated and applied ice, put it in warm water to improve blood circulation and reduce pain. Applying a hot compress is an important step in the healing process.

6. Reach for pain killers:

If the pain does not subside you can go for over the counter pain killers like aspirin or ibuprofen.

Video On How To Treat Jammed Finger

Does Pulling A Jammed Finger Help?

People mistake the jammed finger for a dislocated one and think that pulling it or jerking it may fix it back into place. But this is not the case. A jammed finger is a sprain in the tissues that make up the joint. Jerking it or pulling it can worsen the condition.

Pulling or pushing it back into position can tear a tendon or dislocate the finger. It is wise to just provide the finger with enough rest and applying the cold compressor to it.

Jammed Finger Exercises To Do At Home

1. Wrist maneuver:

This exercise is to make the wrist stronger which in turn will aid the jammed finger to heal faster. Grab any weight (not necessarily a dumbbell) below two pounds. Place yourself in a chair with an armrest.

Hold the weight and put the injured hand on the armrest with the palm facing upwards. Now slide the wrist further, so that your wrist is unsupported.

Hold this position for 30 seconds and then bend the wrist towards the floor. Hold this position as well for 30 seconds and move back to from where you started

2. Finger flexing or finger stretching:

Keeping your finger in the same position with a splint may heal it but may freeze the muscles and tendons in the joint. A few stretching exercises may help this.

Keep your hand at a 90-degree angle. Use your other hand to bend the injured finger slowly towards your palm. Be in this position for 15 seconds and the return to the original position.

3. Finger resistance:

Take a medium-width rubber band and place it around the tips the fingers of the affected hand. Place the hand at a 90-degree angle and the spread the fingers. Hold the position for 10 seconds and then back to the original. Repeat this exercise around 30-50 times a day.

Can A Jammed Finger Heal Itself?

The answer is yes, only if the force of impact was minimal. Many times in case of jammed fingers there is instant swelling and pain which goes away within 3-5 hours if given rest. Mostly jammed fingers do not require a run to the doctor if given due rest and administered an ice pack.

How Long Does It Take To Heal?

Depending on the severity of the hit, it may take 2-8 days for the swelling to reduce. But even after that if the pain and swelling persist, one should seek medical assistance.

Precautions To Be Taken

A jammed finger is not a serious injury and is very common for basketball, football or volleyball players. They may bounce back into the game the very next day.

However just for safety if you cannot provide the finger due rest or if it is a minor jammed finger, then you can just do a ‘buddy splint’ and tape the injured finger to its neighbour. This will provide support and will save the finger from further jerks.

If you are having a jammed finger for the first time there is no need for panicking (once you have ruled out a fracture). Giving the injured hand proper rest and following the above-given routine, your jammed finger will be normal and working in no time.

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