A finger sprain is the stretching or tearing of ligaments that support the small joints of the finger. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to each other or to cartilege.
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A finger sprain usually results from a blow to the finger causing the finger to bend too much or in the wrong direction. This often occurs during athletic activity when an athlete jams a finger into another person, the ball, or piece of equipment. Finger sprains may also occur in other situations, such as falling on the hand.
Factors that may increase your risk of finger sprain include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and how you injured your finger. The doctor will examine your finger to assess the stability of the joint and the severity of the injury.
Images may be taken of your finger. This can be done with:
Finger sprains are graded according to their severity:
Treatment may include:
RICE therapy may be advised to reduce discomfort:
In addition to RICE therapy, anti-inflammatory medications may be advised to relieve pain.
A splint may be needed to immobilize the finger. The finger may need to be taped to the finger next to it when returning to sports. This is known as buddy taping.
Surgery may be needed to repair a finger sprain if:
You can reduce your risk of getting a finger sprain by learning and practicing correct technique in sports and using proper equipment. However, in many cases, sprains cannot be prevented.
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Sprains and strains. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Sprains_Strains/default.asp. Published January 2015. Accessed June 8, 2016.
1/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Marcie Sidman, MD Last Updated: 9/30/2013