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What to Do if You Have a Broken Finger

by Melissa Bell
3 minutes read

Well that hurt! You broke your finger. It really doesn’t matter how (although the doctor will want to know) because now it hurts beyond description and you need to have it taken care of. There are a couple of important questions:

  • How do you tell for sure that the finger is broken?
  • Do you always need to go to the doctor?

How to tell if your finger is broken

Fingers can become broken, jammed and bruised. The joints (knuckles) of the finger can become dislocated and the knuckles can be injured. So how do you tell if you have broken a finger?

If your finger is broken you will experience sharp pain at the site of the break. You may also see that the finger is misshapen. In severe breaks the bone may protrude through the skin. Soon after the break occurs you may notice redness and swelling at the site. As the finger continues to swell it will be increasingly difficult to bend or move it. The swelling may also spread to nearby fingers. In cases of a severe break you may also begin to see bruising around the area.

What to do if your finger is broken

First, treat the finger at home and then seek medical treatment immediately. Apply ice to the area to reduce the swelling. Put a thin towel or piece of cloth on your hand and then apply the ice to the cloth. You should never apply ice directly to your skin.

Then apply a splint to the finger to immobilize it. You can use a popsicle stick, pencil, (not a sharp one) pen, or any other straight non-bendable object small enough to place behind your finger. Wrap the splint to your finger using gauze or strips of fabric. The splint doesn’t have to look good, it just has to prevent your finger from moving and causing more pain.

Go the nearest urgent care center to be seen by a physician. Receiving medical attention will also help to ensure that you protect your finger and are able to use it once the bone has healed.

Once you get to the hospital the doctor will order an x-ray to examine the break and its stability. If it is fairly stable you may need to wear a splint for about 4 weeks. More severe fractures may require surgery to reset the bone. It is extremely important that a broken finger heal in the right place in order to maintain its function. In some cases, the physician may ask you to return for follow up digital x-ray to make sure that the bone is healing in the right position.

If the bone has punctured the skin, you may be given antibiotics to prevent infection and a dressing to cover the wound. Make sure to keep this dressing clean and dry and follow the doctor’s instructions.

After the break

You may need physical therapy after the break has healed. Some physical therapists specialize in hands because it is such a complicated bone structure. These therapists will make sure that as much mobility as possible is restored. After the bone has healed the finger may be stiff and physical therapy exercises will you to regain range of motion.

We can help you care for your finger

If you think you may have broken your finger, come to AG Urgent Care in Brooklyn. You can walk in and be seen by a physician without a long wait. You will receive fast, high quality care in your own neighborhood and it will be convenient for you to return for follow-up care.

Breaking a finger is painful, but receiving care for it shouldn’t be.

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