What are the Most Common Finger Injuries?

Jeremy Laukkonen

Many common finger injuries happen on the job, participating in sports, or are a result of animal bites. Some typical finger injuries include damage to the bone or nerves, laceration or avulsion of the soft tissue, and stretching of the ligaments and tendons. Lacerations may affect the soft tissue, nerves and tendons, while crushing damage can break bones and harm the ligaments, tendons or nerves. Fingernails are also commonly injured, which may result in the loss of the nail.

A person with swollen fingers.
A person with swollen fingers.

A jamming or crushing blow will commonly cause broken bones or damaged tendons. Finger injuries that are often associated with a jammed finger include ligament damage, such as skier's thumb and swan neck deformity. Other frequently seen injuries include the tendon damage found in hammer finger and boutonniere deformity. These injuries all involve the stretching or tearing of ligaments and tendons, resulting in a digit failing to straighten properly and may lead to the loss of fine motor control. They may also be associated with significant pain.

A woman wearing a splint for a torn ligament in her finger.
A woman wearing a splint for a torn ligament in her finger.

Each finger also has two nerves that can be damaged, which may result in a loss of sensation. These nerves run up different sides of the finger, and each are responsible for sensation in one side of the digit. When one nerve becomes damaged, the side of the finger it is associated with will typically become numb. Nerve damage may also be connected with a tingling or burning sensation.

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Small nicks and scrapes are common finger injuries that must be treated with an adhesive bandage.
Small nicks and scrapes are common finger injuries that must be treated with an adhesive bandage.

Bites can cause significant soft tissue damage in the form of lacerations or punctures, and may become complicated by infections. Animal bites are a common source of finger injuries, but human bites may be even more dangerous. This is due to the dangerous bacteria that are often present in the human mouth. Finger injuries sustained from a human bite or lacerations incurred during a fight may seem less severe than an animal bite, though it is important to have these wounds disinfected quickly and to seek appropriate medical attention.

The fingernail and nail bed are another easily injured part of the finger. The nail bed can be damaged from a laceration that breaks through the fingernail, or by a crushing force. When blood gathers under the nail, a subungual hematoma may form. This sometimes requires drainage and may ultimately result in losing the nail. It is also possible to suffer from an infection of the area where the finger and nail connect. These infections are typically known as paronychia, and if left untreated they can potentially spread to infect the entire digit.

A person wearing a finger splint.
A person wearing a finger splint.

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Discussion Comments


@Scrbblchick -- Yeah, for real. I don't know how I did it to this day, but when I was nine, I got my pinky finger caught in the hinge of a folding chair. I know, weird. But I don't think anything ever hurt worse! I had it X-rayed and it wasn't broken. The doctor said I might have fractured a ligament. It's looked a little skewed ever since and I can't quite straighten it out all the way unless I really make an effort. But it hasn't given me any more problems, thankfully.


Jammed finger -- ouch. I jammed my middle finger on a basketball playing four square when I was in seventh grade. It *hurt*! And then my finger swelled up and looked like a Coke bottle.

Since I cook a lot, I've also had a sliced finger or two. I'm not sure whether the slices or the jams hurt worse. Neither is any fun.

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