A Broken Finger Guide

If you were to compare a number of broken finger pictures you would see that the visible symptoms range from almost invisible, to truly severe. A fractured pinky is a far milder injury than say a broken index finger. The fact that broken finger injuries can from time to time, display few visible symptoms, means that you need to know what to do if you think you may have a broken finger, but are not sure. Within this broken finger guide, you will find details on how and why finger injuries occur, how they are treated, and how the recovery timeline looks.

Selection a section:

What is a Broken Finger?

A broken or fractured finger occurs when one of the phalanx (finger bones) is damaged and is either cleanly broken or has been cracked or split in some way. In most cases, a broken finger is caused by physical trauma, either during an accident or as a result of overstressing the finger during sporting activities.

Broken Finger Key Facts

Before we move on to discuss broken finger healing, it will be useful for you to know a few key facts about how your fingers work and the bones which they comprise of.
Broken finger injuries are very common, they make up over 10% of all fracture injuries in the world.

Take a look at the picture of a human hand in its skeletal form below. You will see that there 14 separate finger bones in each hand. These finger bones, or to give them the right name, phalanx, are named, from the tip to the palm, the distal phalanx, middle phalanx and proximal phalanx. If you look closely at the picture, you will see that the thumb does not have a middle phalanx.


What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Finger?

In order to be able to answer questions such as is my finger jammed or broken? You need to learn what broken finger symptoms are. If you have suffered a broken finger symptoms could include:

  • There will be some level of pain, from minor to very severe. This pain may dissipate if the finger is immobilized but return if you attempt to bend the finger.
  • The finger may be bruised or swollen. However, some fractured fingers do not swell or bruise.
  • The finger will be stiff and difficult to move.
  • You may have odd sensations such as pins and needles or numbness in the finger due to damaged nerves.
  • The finger may be pointing in a strange direction, such as straight up or off to the side.
  • An open fracture will have one of the broken bones protruding through the skin.

A sprained finger shares many symptoms with a broken finger. Therefore, even if you only think you have sprained your finger, you need to have a medical professional take a look at it, in case it is actually broken.

What Are the Most Common Causes of a Broken Finger?

Our fingers are surprisingly resilient. They bend freely and have two joints (apart from the thumb which has only one). This means that if they suffer trauma, they are likely just to bend and absorb the shock. Yet when our fingers are hit straight on, putting trauma pressure on the tip, a broken distal phalanx could be the result.

Certain groups of people, such as the very old or those that suffer from a medical condition such as osteoporosis are far more prone to suffer a broken finger injury.

Trauma injury sustained in an accident is a common cause of a fractured finger. For example, if you were in a road traffic accident. However, the most common type of accident that results in a broken finger is a slip, trip or fall. It is very easy to break a finger whilst trying to catch yourself as you fall.

By far the most common cause of a broken finger is during a sporting activity. Some sports such as football, rugby, hockey and skiing are high-risk sports. Other sports, such as boxing or martial arts also put fingers at risk of being damaged or broken.

How to Get a Free Expert Orthopaedic Assessment for Your Broken Bone Report

When you attend the hospital to have a broken finger treated, once you have had your finger X-ray done, your doctor will create a broken bone report based on its findings.

This report is used to help decide what type of treatment is best for your injury. You can request to be given a copy of this report. In many cases, we can help you to get a free private orthopaedic assessment of this broken bone report done.

This expert opinion can be useful in making sure you are being treated in the best way possible. You will learn whether the hospital has prescribed the proper level of treatment and if the private expert believes that further treatment will be required, or the wrong treatment is being administered.

How is a Broken Finger Treated?

Broken finger treatment is generally standardised regardless of the severity of the injury except in extreme cases. For example, treatment for broken finger injuries which have left one or more fingers severely misshapen, with multiple breaks in different phalanx, would require reconstructive surgery to bring the bones back into alignment.

If you suspect you have suffered a fractured finger, then there are a number of things you can do before you receive medical care, to make sure the injury is not exacerbated before it is treated, and to minimise pain.

  • Avoid moving the finger if you can. If you need to immobilise it to help with this, then you can tape it to the adjacent finger using a sticking plaster or medical tape. Alternatively, you could use a pencil or something similar as a rudimentary splint.
  • Hold your hand up above the level of your heart. This will help to reduce swelling, and also lessen the pain.
  • You can make a temporary ice pack from a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel. Apply this to the finger to reduce swelling and pain. If your finger is too awkward for self-treatment with an ice pack, you can soak a flannel or cloth in ice water and wrap it around the finger instead.
  • If your broken finger has an open wound such as a cut or gouge, apply pressure to the cut if you can with a clean bandage or surgical pad.

Treatment for a broken finger at the hospital:

Once you arrive at the hospital, a doctor will examine your finger, to decide the best way to begin treating it. Most usually, treatment will begin with an X-ray to find out which phalanx is broken (if any) and how severe the break or fracture is.

Depending on the severity of the injury, what happens next will be different. For example, for a minor broken little finger treatment will be simpler.

In serious cases, injured finger treatment will continue with the doctor resetting the bones to their proper shape and layout. You will be given a local anaesthetic, and the doctor will use their hands to realign the finger bones. If the doctor cannot do this by hand, you may need to have surgery so that the bones can be pinned in place until they are healed.

If corrective surgery is needed to realign the bones in the finger so that they can heal, pins, rods, and screws will be used to keep them in place. These are only used temporarily, and once the bone has healed, they will be removed. This will once again, require mild surgery.

Once the bones have been set, the finger will then be immobilised. For minor injuries, the finger will be tapped to its neighbour. For more serious fractures, a splint may be used instead, or even a cast.

Once the finger has been immobilised, a nurse will instruct you on how to take care of your injury at home. You may be given a short course of painkillers, and then you will be discharged, and you can head home.

Caring for your broken finger at home:

Once you have been sent home from the hospital, you will need to care for your own injury at home. If you have received minor treatment, such as broken fingertip treatment you may need to do nothing more than try not to move the finger. However, for more complex injuries, such as those that need a broken finger cast to treat them, caring for your injury is a little more involved. The tips below will help you care for your own injury:

  • Try not to use the hand on which the broken finger is located. Especially if you have had your finger put in a splint, which could be moved out of alignment.
  • Use over-the-counter painkillers to help control the pain. If after a few days these mild painkillers are not coping with the pain, you should go back to your doctor, as it may be there are further complications with your injury.
  • Rest your hand on a cushion to keep it protected. If you can, keep it raised above the height of your heart. Keeping it above the level of your heart will help to lessen the pain, and it will also reduce swelling.
  • If your broken finger is still swollen, use an ice pack to help reduce it. Apply the ice pack for around 15 minutes each time and repeat this exercise 4 or 5 times a day until the swelling has dissipated.
  • When the time comes to remove the splint or cast from your finger, you will find that it may be stiff and lack strength. You should exercise your finger with simple stretching exercises and try to keep it moving to stop it becoming stiff.
  • Towards the end of the healing process, you will need to ask the advice of your doctor on how best to prepare for rehabilitation and a full return to work.

What Free Private Treatment Can I Qualify For?

A broken finger left untreated can lead to serious health issues later in life. You owe it to yourself to make sure that you receive the best treatment possible. This may include using free private treatment if you are eligible to claim some.

Many people have access to some type of free private medical care for a fractured finger. If you contact us, we will be able to tell you during a short phone call whether we think you could claim some form of private health care for your fractured finger. In most cases, the availability of free private health care is based on the location a person lives. We can take your postcode and find out instantly whether any is available to you, it will take less than a minute for us to do this.

Is There Any Other Good Treatment I Can Get for Free?

Even if you cannot get private medical care for your broken finger injury, you may still be able to claim something else, such as a broken finger splint. Although the NHS will usually provide you with all you need to take care of your injury, the free medical supplies you can claim may be of a higher quality. This will help you recover faster and better. Contact us to find out if any free medical supplies are available in your area.

How Long Does a Broken Finger Take to Heal?

Many people presume that how long their finger will take to heal, will depend on the severity of the break. It seems logical that a broken pinky finger healing time would be shorter than a broken thumb or index finger. The simple truth is though, that all bones take exactly the same amount of time to knit back together and repair the break. Within two weeks a bone has begun to repair itself, connecting the broken parts. Within eight weeks it will have healed completely. So broken finger recovery time will always be two to eight weeks.

However, many of the symptoms of mild injurers such as a broken finger tip will entirely vanish before the full eight weeks, and in these cases, although the bone is still mending, you will be able to move and use your finger.

How Can I Recover Safer and Possibly Faster?

If you would like to learn how to heal a broken finger fast, then you should give us a call. We might be able to arrange for some free private physiotherapy to help you recover faster and better.

If you are hoping to get back to work as quickly as possible, some free private physio could get you back to work much more rapidly. We can tell you within 30 seconds whether you have access to this type of free private treatment in your area.

What are the Possible Complications with a Broken Finger?

Even though most broken finger injuries are quite minor in nature, there are a number of complications that could set in during, or as a result of treatment. These include:

  • Joint stiffness – whilst your finger is immobilized the bone may heal with excessive bone tissue being grown as scar tissue. This can lead to the finger becoming less supple. In many cases, answering can you bend a broken finger? Will be yes, but perhaps not as well as before the break.
  • Rotation – this is a side effect of a broken finger not healing properly. What happens in a case of rotation, is that the bones have rotated slightly before knitting together, leading to the broken finger healing crooked.
  • Nonunion – this is a term that is used to describe bones that do not knit back together. This typically occurs when the two parts of the broken bone are too far apart to begin healing, or flesh gets between the two parts and prevents the healing.
  • Osteomyelitis – this is a form of bone infection, and it can set in due to surgery being performed on the bones of the finger to align them before healing.

Do You Think Your Doctor Might Have Missed Something About Your Injury?

Although the symptoms of a broken finger are usually very apparent, especially when an X-ray has been taken, doctors do occasionally miss things. What do you do if you have a broken little finger and you suspect you have not been treated properly? You will need to do a little research, so you can decide whether you are correct in your suspicions. The websites below give more details on broken finger injuries and their treatment, which you may find useful.

NHS – Broken Finger Information
X-rays Explained
Using Ibuprofen as a Painkiller

Are There Any Long-Term Health Issues Caused by a Broken Finger?

As was explained earlier in this guide, broken finger healing time is generally two to eight weeks. However, there may be long-term effects of a fractured finger.

The most common long-term health issue that can be attributed to a broken finger is Post-Traumatic Arthritis.

Post-Traumatic Arthritis happens when the cartilage of the joint is worn away while the bone is healing. This results in loss or reduced function of the joint and quite often pain. In many cases, Post-Traumatic Arthritis cannot be prevented, as it is a side-effect of the bodies natural healing process. However, it can be treated using anti-inflammatory medication, and through physiotherapy. In extreme cases, the cartilage could be partially repaired through surgery.
Aside from Post-Traumatic Arthritis, complications with a broken finger injury are seldom encountered.

Contact Us to Find Out if You Qualify for Free Private Treatment

Even if you have only a minor broken finger pinky or finger tip, for example, you may still be able to gain access to one of several forms of free private health care. This could aid significantly broken finger recovery time.

We might be able to help you claim some free medical supplies, such as a better quality broken finger splint, or a fitted sling to keep your arm immobile. We might be able to put you in touch with an orthopaedic expert who will create a private orthopaedic assessment based upon your broken bone report. In some cases, we may be able to help sufferers of a broken finger injury get back to work quicker, through access to local private physiotherapy treatment.

If you would like to find out if you are able to claim any of this free private health care for your broken, call us now on 020 3870 4868 and we will tell you within a couple of minutes if we believe you can claim free private health treatment.