A finger fracture is the technical name for a broken finger. Broken fingers are very common and account for 10% of all broken bones around the body. They typically occur after an accident and are common injuries to sports players and workers who operate machinery or heavy equipment. One of the most common causes for a broken finger is when someone places their hand out to brace for a fall.
A broken finger is caused when the force of an injury exceeds the strength of the finger bones. As a result, the finger bones break or fracture. There are many causes of a broken finger, most of which involve it being crushed in between objects or bent by force, impact or collision. While finger breaks and fractures are common, it is advised that they are treated properly to avoid further injury down the track.
A broken finger is very painful, true fractures cause swelling and immediate pain. There will be considerable bruising and the finger will become stiff, tight and very hard to actively move. It is common for the finger to go numb and give tingles. If the fracture is extensive, bone fragments may be able to be seen protruding through the skin.
If a broken finger is suspected, the first thing to do is to seek medical attention. This will allow the injury (finger) to be assessed by medical staff and the appropriate course of treatment discussed. Minor injuries may be left to heal on their own. Many types of fractures need specific treatments particularly if the fracture involves a finger joint, a finger tendon or ligament. A surgeon may recommend surgery as the first treatment. It never hurts to be too safe and seek a medical opinion.
Treatment for a broken finger can involve:
- Resting and immobilising the finger it with a strap or splint to prevent movement.
- Applying the P.R.I.C.E protocol of protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation.
- When appropriate chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments help with pain and swelling and improve finger function.
- Strengthening exercises to regain full movement and strength. Exercises can include stress ball exercises, play dough and elastic bands.
- Surgery may be recommended by medical staff.