Sprained Finger

A Guide to Sprained Finger Care

If you have never had a sprained finger, the chances are you might not truly understand how painful it can be. Another thing you might not realize is how many times each day you would normally use the finger that is injured. Both of these facts will quickly become apparent to anyone who suffers from a sprained finger.

A sprained finger is an injury that stretches the ligaments in the fingers, or the thumb if it is a sprained thumb. The most common way to injure a finger in the manner is to fall on your hand. A sprained finger is most often caused by a sports injury, and is especially common in the sports of football, basketball, and baseball. A finger sprain is painful, plus there is usually swelling and an inability to use the finger from a week to several weeks depending on the severity of the sprain.

If you suspect that you might have a sprained finger, check for these symptoms by answering these questions: Do you have pain over the joint where the injury took place? Do you have swelling in the same area? Is the mobility of your finger restricted? Does the finger feel unstable? And, do you have pain every time you try to bend your finger? If your answer to all of these questions is yes, you definitely have a sprained finger.

Depending on the severity of the sprain, there will be differences in the amount of pain, swelling, and mobility. But if you suspect that you do have a sprain, you will need to either get an appointment immediately with a medical professional or go to an emergency room for diagnosis and treatment. The first thing that will be done is an x-ray of the finger. This will either confirm or rule out that the finger has a more serious injury, such as a broken bone or a dislocation.

The worst case scenario for diagnosis of a sprained finger is if a rupture of the ligament is suspected. This might require another test, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), to determine the exact extent of the injury. If the ligament is ruptured, you may need surgery to repair it.

If the doctor’s diagnosis confirms a sprained finger, the treatment will depend on how bad a sprain it is. The injury receives a grade for different levels of severity. For instance, a grade one sprain would be the least serious diagnosis, meaning that the joint is fine and there was just a stretching or tiny micro-tear of the ligament. A grade two sprain indicates that the joint is slightly unstable, and the ligament is partially torn.

The most serious condition is a grade three sprain. Here, the joint will be unstable and there will be either severe tearing of the ligament tissue or a complete rupture. A grade three sprain will most likely require surgery to repair the damaged ligament.

Your doctor will go over with you the different treatment options for a sprained finger. First of all, you need to not use the finger. Next, ice the finger for around twenty minutes at least four times a day to reduce the swelling. Compress the finger by wrapping it in an elastic compression bandage--the doctor will give you one of these to bring home. Elevate your finger by keeping it above your heart so that fluid can drain out and the swelling goes down. For pain, you can use a NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), such as ibuprofen, or the doctor may give you a prescription for a stronger drug if you are have intense pain.

If you are an active person or received the injury from playing sports, you will most likely have to wear a finger splint, especially when you play. Sometimes the finger is buddy-taped to prevent movement. Buddy-taping is when the sprained finger is taped to one of the fingers beside it.

For most minor sprains, you should be moving your finger again in a week. It may take several weeks for the injury to heal completely and during this time you may experience pain when you move the finger in certain directions.