by Mary Calvagna, MS
A finger fracture is a break in any of the bones in a finger. Each finger consists of three bones called the phalanges. The thumb has only two phalanges.
A finger fracture is caused by trauma to the finger. Trauma includes:
Risk Factors TOP
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting an injury.
General risk factors for fractures include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, your physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The injured finger will be examined. The doctor may order x-rays of the finger to determine which bones are broken and the type of fracture.
Treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. Treatment involves:
The doctor will put the bones back into place. This is usually done without surgery. However, if your fracture is severe, you may need pins, screws, or small plates to hold the bones in place. Each of these will require surgery. Pins may only require minor surgery, performed under local anesthesia.
Your finger will be put in a splint or cast to hold your finger motionless and to protect it. You will need to wear the splint or cast as long as your doctor recommends (usually 3-6 weeks). Your doctor may order x-rays during the healing time to ensure that the bones have not shifted position.
When your doctor decides you are ready, start range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. This is as important as the surgery. You may be referred to a physical therapist to assist you with these exercises.
If you are diagnosed with a finger fracture, follow your doctor's instructions.
To help prevent finger fractures:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
ACR Appropriateness Criteria for acute hand and wrist trauma. National Guideline Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=13662. Published 1998. Updated 2008. Accessed July 7, 2009.
Fracture of the finger. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00257. Updated October 2007. Accessed July 7, 2009.
Last reviewed September 2012 by John C. Keel, MD
Last Updated: 09/28/2012