Broken Finger Overview
A broken finger means there's a break or crack in one of the finger bones, also known as a fractured finger.
A finger may get broken in a fall, car crash, or when throwing a punch.
Is my finger broken?
The symptoms of a broken finger are pain, swelling and stiffness. These symptoms are shared with other injuries to the hand, such as sprains or dislocated bones, so it can be hard to tell if there's a fracture.
There can be more definite symptoms of a fracture or dislocation, such as part of a finger going in a different direction to normal or looking deformed. There may be bruising around the fracture.
If you think a finger is broken
If you think a finger is broken, go to a minor injuries unit or accident and emergency.
Some basic first aid may help before getting medical attention. This includes making a temporary splint to stabilise the finger with something like a pen or lolly stick taped or bound next it.
Swelling and pain may be helped by holding an ice pack or frozen veg wrapped in a cloth next to the finger.
Broken finger diagnosis and treatment
At the minor injuries unit or A&E, an X-ray will be taken to confirm if a finger is broken.
The X-ray will also show the type of fracture which will help determine the treatment necessary.
If a broken finger is confirmed, the bone will be moved back into place. This is called reduction and is done after a local anaesthetic is given to numb the area.
This realignment can often be done without cutting the skin.
For the broken finger to heal, it needs to be kept still. This may involve taping it to the next finger with buddy taping or using a splint or plaster cast.
In a severe fracture, an operation may be needed to stabilise the broken bone with wires or plates and screws.
A broken finger takes around 4-6 weeks to heal.
Next steps follow-up
You will probably leave the hospital in some type of splint or dressing. It is very important not to disturb your splint. It is holding the fractured finger in the correct position for healing. The best thing to do is keep the dressing clean, dry and elevated in order to decrease the swelling.
Activity may aggravate the injury and cause increasing pain, so it is best not to use the involved hand until your follow-up appointment with your orthopaedic surgeon.
You may be asked back to hospital about a week after your injury for another x-ray to evaluate the position of the fracture fragments. It is extremely important to attend this appointment. If the finger is not aligned correctly, it may affect the healing of your finger and leave permanent disability.