How Do I Treat a Dislocated Finger?

An ice pack, which can help reduce swelling in a dislocated finger.
A dislocated finger is often set in a splint to prevent movement while it heals.
Article Details
  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Finger dislocation, or the sudden dislodgement of a finger bone from its normal position, is a common injury, particularly if you play contact sports. Many people do not know how to properly treat a dislocated finger, however. If your finger becomes dislocated, you should avoid manipulating it, take steps to prevent swelling, and promptly seek medical attention. An examining physician may take x-rays, relocate the dislodged bone, and immobilize the finger. In the days and weeks that follow, you should continue to care for the injury according to your doctor’s orders until full finger function has been restored.

Often, finger dislocation occurs when a finger is “jammed” on the ground during a fall or struck by an object such as a basketball. Following dislocation, the affected finger will often swell. You may experience severe pain or the finger may become numb. The dislodged bone will often be visibly twisted or bent in an abnormal way, and the surrounding skin may become discolored.

If you believe you have a dislocated finger, it is important that you do not attempt to reposition the dislodged bone, as doing so may further aggravate your injury. To prevent or reduce swelling in the dislocated finger, you should apply an ice pack to it and keep your hand elevated above heart level. Most importantly, you should be aware that a dislocated finger is a genuine injury that needs prompt medical attention. Consult your physician as soon as possible, or proceed to your local emergency room.

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A physician will evaluate your dislocated finger, in some cases taking x-rays to rule out a breakage. In most cases, she will then manually restore your finger to its normal position. Once your finger has been repositioned, it will likely then be immobilized with a splint. If your injury is severe, the physician may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory drug to minimize pain.

In the days and weeks that follow your treatment, you should continue attending to your dislocated finger so that it can fully heal. You may need to repeatedly ice and elevate the affected hand during the first few days following your injury to prevent swelling. Further, you should not attempt to remove a splint or other immobilizing device until your doctor has instructed you to do so. If your finger was very badly injured, your doctor may instruct you to perform small exercises to restore full function.

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