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:
Factors that may increase your risk of a finger fracture include:
A finger fracture may cause:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, your physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The injured finger will be examined. The doctor will order x-rays of the finger to determine which bones are broken and the type of fracture.
Proper treatment can prevent long-term complications or problems with your finger, such as immobility or misalignment. Treatment will depend on how serious the fracture is, but may include:
Extra support may be needed to protect, support, and keep your finger in line while it heals. Supportive steps may include buddy taping (your injured finger is taped to healthy fingers next to it), or a splint or cast.
Some fractures cause pieces of bone to separate. Your doctor will need to put these pieces back into their proper place. This may be done:
Children’s bones are still growing at an area of the bone called the growth plate. If the fracture affected the growth plate, your child may need to see a specialist. Injuries to the growth plate will need to be monitored to make sure the bone can continue to grow as expected.
Prescription or over-the-counter medications may be given to help reduce inflammation and pain.
Medications may include acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Check with your doctor before taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving your child aspirin.
Rest and Recovery
Healing time varies by age and your overall health. Children and people in better overall health heal faster. In general, it takes up to 6-8 weeks for a fractured finger to heal.
You will need to adjust your activities while your finger heals, but complete rest is rarely required. Ice and elevating the hand at rest may also be recommended to help with discomfort and swelling.
As you recover, you may be referred to physical therapy or rehabilitation to start range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. Do not return to activities or sports until your doctor gives you permission to do so.
If you are diagnosed with a finger fracture, follow your doctor's instructions.
To help reduce your chance of finger fractures, take these steps:
To help reduce falling hazards at work and home, take these steps:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Fracture of the finger. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00257 . Updated October 2007. Accessed September 16, 2013.
Newberg A, Dalinka MK, et al. Acute hand and wrist trauma. American College of Radiology. ACR Appropriateness Criteria. Radiology. 2000;215:Suppl:375-8. Updated 2008.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD