Definition

A finger fracture is a break in any of the bones in a finger. Each finger consists of 3 bones called the phalanges. The thumb has only 2 phalanges.

Finger Fracture
Nucleus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

A finger fracture is caused by trauma to the finger. Trauma includes:

  • Falls
  • Blows
  • Collisions
  • Severe twists

Risk Factors

This condition is more common in older adults.

Factors that may increase your risk of a finger fracture include:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Poor nutrition
  • Certain congenital bone conditions
  • Participation in contact sports
  • Violence

Symptoms

A finger fracture may cause:

  • Pain, often severe
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Inability to move the finger without pain or difficulty
  • Possible deformity at the fracture site

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms, your physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The injured finger will be examined.

Images will be taken of your finger to determine which bones are broken and the type of fracture. This can be done with x-rays.

Treatment

Proper treatment can prevent long-term complications or problems with the finger, such as immobility or misalignment. Treatment will depend on how serious the fracture is, but may include:

Initial Care

Extra support may be needed to protect, support, and keep the finger in line while it heals. Supportive steps may include taping your injured finger to the healthy fingers next to it (buddy taping), or a splint or cast.

Some fractures cause pieces of bone to separate. These bones will need to be put back into their proper place. This may be done:

  • Without surgery—anesthseia will be used to decrease pain while the doctor moves the pieces back into place
  • With surgery—pins, screws, or a wire may be needed to reconnect the pieces and hold them in place

Children’s bones are still growing at an area of the bone called the growth plate. If the fracture affected the growth plate, a specialist may be needed. Injuries to the growth plate will need to be monitored to make sure the bone can continue to grow as expected.

Medication

Prescription or over-the-counter medication may be needed to relieve discomort.

Rehabilitation

Physical therapy or rehabilitation therapy will be used to improve range of motion and strengthen the finger.

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of finger fractures:

  • Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the bone.
  • Always wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a car.
  • Do weight-bearing and strengthening exercises regularly to build strong bones.
  • Wear proper padding and safety equipment when participating in sports or activities.

To help reduce falling hazards at work and home:

  • Clean spills and slippery areas right away.
  • Remove tripping hazards such as loose cords, rugs, and clutter.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower.
  • Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or tub.
  • Put in handrails on both sides of stairways.
  • Walk only in well-lit rooms, stairs, and halls.
  • Keep flashlights on hand in case of a power outage.

Revision Information