A finger sprain is stretching or tearing of the ligaments of the finger. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that hold bones to each other.
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A finger sprain is when a force pushes the bones of the finger apart. If the force is strong enough, the ligament comes apart. This can happen from things like:
- A blow to the finger
- An impact with an object or another person
- Falling on the hand
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
- Playing sports, such as basketball or volleyball
- Poor coordination or balance
- Muscle weakness
- Loose joints
Problems may be:
- Pain and tenderness
- Swelling, warmth, or bruising around the finger
- Problems moving the finger
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will also be asked how you injured your finger. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your finger.
It can be hard to tell a sprain from a fracture or dislocation. Pictures may be taken. This can be done with:
Treatment will depend on the joint and how severe the injury is. The goal of treatment is to ease pain and improve movement. Choices are:
- Supportive care, such as rest, ice, a compression bandage, and raising the finger to ease pain and swelling
- Medicine, such as over the counter pain relievers
- Taping and splinting the finger to keep it in place as it heals
Surgery may be needed to repair a finger sprain if:
- A small piece of bone has been broken off
- A ligament is very torn
Most sprains are due to accidents. They cannot always be prevented. The risk may be lowered by:
- Using the right safety gear and techniques when playing sports
- Stretching and strengthening the ligaments that support the finger
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine http://www.sportsmed.org
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.aaos.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org
Derry S, Moore RA, Gaskell H, McIntyre M, Wiffen PJ. Topical NSAIDs for acute musculoskeletal pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev.2015;(6):CD007402.
Sprains, strains and other soft-tissue injuries. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.orthoinfo.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00111. Accessed October 14, 2020.
Topical NSAIDs. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/drug-review/topical-nsaids . Accessed October 12, 2020.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT
- Review Date: 09/2020
- Update Date: 10/14/2020