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What Are the Different Ways to Treat a Jammed Finger?

A woman with her jammed finger wrapped.
A person with a jammed finger.
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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 March 2014
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To treat a jammed finger, a person should elevate it, apply ice, and monitor the finger for symptoms of a more significant injury. If the pain becomes severe or movement does not return to the joint after a few hours, it is typically a good idea to seek medical attention, as the injury may be severe. This type of injury sometimes responds well to physical therapy, which may be ordered by a doctor if the finger does not respond well to home treatment or requires more advanced medical care.

Jammed finger is a term typically used to describe an injury in which the finger joint has been injured. In many cases, it is possible to safely treat a jammed finger at home, but there are situations in which professional medical care is necessary. A finger that first appears to be jammed may, in fact, be fractured or have sustained significant tissue damage that could permanently affect the finger if left untreated. This is why it is important for parents, coaches, and individuals suffering from a jammed finger to pay attention to the sufferer's symptoms. Significant pain and immobility that last more than several hours can be a sign of a serious problem that should be addressed by a health care professional.

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After the accident that injures the finger, the affected person should treat a jammed finger by keeping the hand elevated and applying ice or cold packs for about 15 minutes. The icing treatment should not extend past 15 minutes so as to avoid damaging the skin. Instead, remove the ice treatment and allow the hand to warm back up. The ice treatment can be repeated as necessary. Between ice treatments, the sufferer should note whether his symptoms are getting any better. This observation is an important part of making a decision to seek professional care.

If these basic efforts to treat a jammed finger don't seem to be working and the sufferer remains in pain or cannot move his finger properly, it is time to contact a doctor. The doctor or other health care professional who examines the finger may decide to order an x-ray to determine if any bones have been fractured or broken. In such cases, the doctor may apply a splint to the finger and eventually recommend physical therapy that can help the finger to heal so that the sufferer can regain full movement. Even if the finger is not fractured, the doctor may recommend taping the finger during the next several weeks if the sufferer is going to engage in sports or other activities that may aggravate the condition.

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