Finger dislocation, also called a finger jam, is a common injury. It occurs when the bones of the finger are moved (dislocated) from their normal position. A dislocated finger can occur in any of the joints of any finger, but it occurs most often in the middle knuckle of the little, ring, middle, or index finger.
Causes of a Dislocated Finger
A dislocated finger is caused by a “jamming” force that is applied to the end of the finger, or the finger may be forcefully overextended. Either of these situations, or a combination of both, can result in a dislocation. For example:
• A basketball or baseball may strike the tip of an outstretched finger.
• You might fall onto your outstretched hand.
Symptoms of a Dislocated Finger
A dislocated finger is usually obvious. The finger appears crooked, swollen, and is very painful. It may be bent upward or at strange angles. You probably won’t be able to bend or straighten the finger if it is dislocated. Other symptoms you may notice
• Numbness or tingling with a severe dislocation.
• The injured finger may appear a pale color.
• The dislocation may cause a break in the skin where the injury has occurred. If this occurs, you should get medical attention right away.
When to Seek Medical Care for a Dislocated Finger
When you have a dislocated finger, you should see a doctor at once. Delaying a visit to your doctor for a finger jam can make final treatment more difficult and can lead to delayed healing or permanent disability.
Go to the emergency department immediately if there is any loss of sensation (numbness), if there are any open areas of skin, or if the finger is cold, pale, or bluish in color.
• If you have a jammed finger, the finger will swell. To prevent further injury to the finger, immediately remove any jewelry, such as rings.
• Apply an ice pack to your injured finger and elevate the hand above the level of your heart.
Medical Treatment for a Dislocated Finger
The doctor will realign the dislocated bones of your finger with a simple technique. This will often require a local anesthetic injection into the finger to help decrease or stop the pain and allow the doctor to reduce the dislocation and realign the bones. You may also receive medications by mouth, injection, or IV to help the pain and ease the reduction.
• Your injured finger will then be placed in a protective splint or be “buddy taped” to the healthy finger next to it.
• The doctor may get a second x-ray to confirm the realignment of your finger and to check for any broken bones that may not have shown up on the first x-ray.
This video provides more about finger dislocations:
For more information on Dr. Pettrone, read her bio on our website.