Broken finger

Broken finger

A broken finger is a break or fracture in any one of the 3 small phalange bones which make up each finger. It is common in contact sports and is usually caused by direct impact or trauma.



  • A broken finger will be the result of some kind of impact or collision.
  • The athlete will feel immediate pain with swelling and bruising which will appear quite quickly.
  • It will be painful to try and move the finger which may appear deformed if the bone is displaced or joint dislocated.
  • If there is any nerve damage, the finger may be numb or feel tingly.

What is a broken finger?

Bones of the hand and wrist

A broken finger is a break or fracture in any one of the 3 small phalange bones which make up the fingers. This is a relatively common injury which often occurs when the finger is crushed between two hard objects. It may also occur from a fast-moving ball or similar striking the finger.

Finger fractures may be common but it is important to get them checked out and treated properly. If a bone heals out of alignment, this could cause future problems, as well as looking strange!

Fractures of the distal phalanx (the end bone of the finger) can also cause problems with the fingernail, especially if it was caused by a crush injury (see black fingernail). Blood may gather under the nail causing a build-up of pressure and pain. This may require draining.

Broken finger treatment

  • Immediate treatment of a suspected fracture should involve resting the finger, immobilizing it with a splint or buddy strap, applying ice and elevating the hand above the heart to reduce bleeding and swelling. Medical attention should then be sought.
  • The finger should be X-rayed to confirm the fracture and determine if the fracture is displaced. If it is a simple fracture with no displacement (as most finger fractures are) then the finger can be splinted to immobilize it whilst it heals. This may be kept in place for 3-4 weeks. A finger buddy taping technique is sometimes used.
Knee supports

Zinc Ocide Sports Tape (UK) (USA)

Finger taping
Finger taping
  • More complicated fractures where the broken fragment is displaced or broken into more than one part, surgery may be required. This usually involves pinning the two fragments together so that they heal in the right place.
  • Following immobilisation, the finger may feel particularly stiff and weak and so it is important to do mobility and strength exercises to regain full movement and strength. Hand putty and elastic bands exercises are particularly good for this.
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