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
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.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT
Last Updated: 6/4/2021