The bones in your fingers are called phalanges. Each finger
has three phalanges, except the thumb, which has two phalanges. A broken, or
fractured, finger occurs when one or more of these bones breaks. A break is
usually the result of an injury to the hand. A fracture can occur in any of the
phalanges. Fractures can also occur in your knuckles, which are the joints
where your finger bones meet.
Causes a Broken Finger?
Fingers have the highest risk of injury of all the parts of
the hand. You can injure your finger while working with a tool, such as a hammer
or a saw. Your finger can break when a fast-moving object hits your hand, such
as a baseball. Slamming your hand in a door and putting your hands out to break
a fall can also cause you to break your finger.
The nature of the injury and the strength of the bone
determine whether a fracture occurs. Conditions such as osteoporosis and
malnutrition increase your chances of breaking a finger.
Are the Different Types of Broken Fingers?
According to the American
Society for Surgery of the Hand, the number of combinations of types of
hand fractures is infinite. The following terms describe how broken fingers are
Method of Fracture
- In an
avulsion fracture, a ligament or tendon and the piece of bone it attaches
to pull away from the main bone.
- In an impacted
fracture, the broken ends of a bone drive into each other.
- In a shear
fracture, the bone splits in two when a force causes it to move in two
- In an
open fracture, the bone breaks through your skin and creates an open
- In a closed
fracture, the bone breaks but your skin remains intact.
- In a
nondisplaced fracture, or stable fracture, the bone cracks slightly or
completely but doesn’t move.
- In a displaced
fracture, the bone breaks into separate pieces that move and no longer
- A comminuted
fracture is a displaced fracture in which the bone breaks into three or
Who Is at Risk for a Broken Finger?
People with weak bones, such as the elderly or those with a
calcium deficiency, have an increased risk of fracture. Also, people who work
with their hands, such as athletes and manual laborers, have an increased risk of
broken fingers. Sports that increase risk for broken fingers are:
High-impact events, such as automobile accidents, can also
cause broken fingers.
the Symptoms of a Broken Finger
The symptoms of a broken finger include the following:
- limited range of motion
Your finger might also look misshapen or out of alignment (deformed).
Broken fingers may be very painful, especially when you try to move them, but
sometimes the discomfort is dull and tolerable. The absence of extreme pain
doesn’t mean that the fracture doesn’t require medical attention.
Is a Broken Finger Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of finger fracture begins with your doctor taking
your medical history and doing a physical examination. X-rays of the finger
will usually indicate whether your finger is fractured.
Is a Broken Finger Treated?
Treatment for a broken finger depends on the location of the
fracture and whether it’s stable. Taping the fractured finger to an adjacent
intact finger may treat a stable fracture. Unstable fractures require
immobilization. After your doctor aligns the fracture, or reduces it, they can
apply a splint.
If your fracture is unstable, your doctor may need to
perform surgery. Surgery stabilizes the fracture when you have:
- multiple fractures
- loose bone fragments
- a joint injury
- damage to the ligaments or tendons
- unstable, displaced, or open fractures
- an impaction fracture
An orthopedic surgeon or hand surgeon will determine the
best treatment approach for a complicated fracture. Pins, screws, and wires are
useful in surgical procedures for broken fingers. Proper diagnosis, treatment,
and rehabilitation of broken fingers help to preserve hand function and
strength and prevent deformities.
Can Broken Fingers Be Prevented?
A proper diet with adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium
can help keep your bones healthy and less prone to fracture. People who have
difficulty walking and are likely to fall can do physical therapy and use
assistive devices, such as a cane or walker, to help them move around safely.
Athletes and laborers should exercise caution to prevent finger fractures.