Arm conditionsArms & hands conditionsDisease, Condition & Injury

Finger dislocation

(Dislocated finger; Dislocation, Finger)

Finger dislocation – Definition

A finger dislocation occurs when the bones that normally fit are no longer aligned properly. This often also implies stretching or damage to the ligaments. Dislocation can happen in any of the joints in the fingers.

Finger dislocation – Causes

A dislocated finger is usually caused by:

  • A jamming force applied to the end of the finger
  • Finger being forcefully twisted or bent
  • Finger being overextended

Finger dislocation – Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a dislocated finger. Risk factors include:

  • Contact sports
  • Previous finger dislocation or sprain
  • Catching a ball on the tip of the finger

Finger dislocation – Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Severe pain
  • Crooked or awkwardly bent finger
  • Swelling and bruising in the injured area
  • Numbness and/or tingling of the finger
  • Inability to bend or straighten the finger

Finger dislocation – Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. The injured finger will also be examined.

Tests may include:

  • X-ray — a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones, to confirm that the finger is dislocated and not broken

Finger dislocation – Treatment

Seek medical care right away. Do not try to put your finger bones back into place. If you wait for treatment, you could cause permanent damage.

Treatment includes:

  • Realigning the bones — The doctor will move the finger bones back into place. You may be given an injection of local anesthesia to help reduce pain.
  • Splint or taping — After the doctor has realigned the bones, your finger will be placed in a splint or taped to the healthy finger next to it. In some cases, a cast or surgery may be needed. At times, a pin is inserted to hold the bones in place.
  • Ice — Apply ice or a cold pack to your finger for 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times a day for several days. This helps reduce pain and swelling. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin.
  • Elevation — Try to hold the injured hand above the level of your heart. This is to help the swelling go down. For example, place your hand up on a pillow. Using a sling for a few days keeps the hand somewhat elevated.
  • Rehabilitation exercises — Begin exercises to restore range of motion and strength in your finger.
  • Oral pain medicine (eg, ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, aspirin) and topical pain medicines (eg, cream, patches) that are applied to the skin

Finger dislocation – Prevention

To help prevent a finger dislocation:

  • Wear proper padding and safety equipment when participating in sports.
  • Do not break a fall with an outstretched arm.

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