If you’ve been dealing with a jammed finger, you probably do sports actively as it’s a common injury among rugby, football, basketball, and volleyball players. It’s a sprain of joint that occurs as a consequence of an intense impact to the end of your finger.
There are a few home methods which may help you treat a jammed finger faster. If they don’t bring any positive results after a few days, you should consult a specialist to start a medical treatment.
The main symptoms of a jammed finger are pain in your finger, swelling, inflammation, sensitivity to touch, a limited range of motion, and stiffness. In most cases, a jammed finger is not serious. However, you should never ignore it as if it’s not treated on time, it can lead to chronic ailments.
How to Treat a Jammed Finger Quickly
Before you start any treatment, you need to be sure that your injury is not serious. However, don’t panic if your finger hurts a lot as it doesn’t have to reflect the seriousness of the injury. What’s more, it’s typical for a jammed finger to be very painful in the initial stage. However, you need to be sure that your finger is not dislocated or fractured really badly.
A worrying sign is that apart from moderate inflammation, swelling, and pain, you can also observe that your finger is bent at an unnatural angle or it’s extremely bruised or swollen. In such a case, you should consult your doctor.
If not, rest your finger for a few days and try to help yourself with home remedies. If your finger is only mildly jammed, the ligaments are just stretched, but they aren’t torn. It’s then classified as grade one sprain and it’s nothing serious.
The key rule in treating a jammed finger is patience and having a break from doing sports. Sometimes a few days is just enough, but it may also last a few weeks. Unfortunately, even everyday activities, such as typing or grabbing things might be difficult, especially if it’s your dominant hand that is injured.
In order to treat your jammed finger faster, you may try various home remedies which often turn out to be very effective. If after a few days you don’t see any difference, seek a medical consultation.
1. Cold Therapy
Your finger hurts mainly because it’s inflamed. Therefore, the first thing you should do is apply ice to your finger. It will immediately reduce the pain, swelling, and it will slow down the blood circulation. You may use a special gel pack that you cool down in the freezer or try whatever frozen products you will find, such as ice cubes or vegetables.
Apply a cold compress several times a day, but for no longer than 15 minutes at a time as it can lead to further irritation. Don’t apply ice directly on the skin, but first wrap it in a soft cloth or a towel. Also, it’s good to keep your arm a little bit higher during the ice therapy as it will bring a better effect.
2. Tape Your Finger
Try a technique known as buddy taping, which means that you tape your injured finger to your adjacent finger as it will protect it from further injuries and make it more stable. You can use a medical tape, a masking tape, a rubber bandage, or a self-adherent wrap to bind your fingers. Don’t do it too firmly, though, as it can cut off your blood circulation or cause even more swelling.
You can place some cotton gauze between your fingers as otherwise some blisters may develop on your skin. It’s also worth using an aluminum or wooden splint together with the tape as it will provide extra support for your jammed finger. The splint will make it easier for you to keep a jammed finger straight and it will prevent any movements.
Wear a splint for at least a week and in case of some more serious injuries, you may have to wear it even for four weeks. If you feel uncomfortable with the splint, you may remove it for a few hours every day, but be careful and don’t bend your finger then.
3. Take Over-the-Counter Products
It’s worth taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which you will get in your pharmacy. The most common and effective ones include naproxen, ibuprofen, or aspirin.
Of course, you can use them short them only, no longer than two weeks as otherwise they can have bad influence on our kidneys, liver, or stomach. However, if you use them just for a few days, they are safe and can successfully relieve inflammation, pain, and swelling
If you are afraid of side effects after taking medications, you may also apply a pain-relieving gel or an anti-inflammatory cream to your injured finger. It will act only on the affected area and it will be safe for your stomach.
It’s also a good option for younger people as aspirin can’t be used under the age of 18. Ibuprofen, on the other hand, is not appropriate to infants under the age of 6 months.
4. Give Your Finger Some Rest
If you want to cure your jammed finger quickly, you need to be aware that proper rest is crucial. If you ignore your injury, it may only lead to further injuries, greater inflammation and pain. Moreover, if you keep putting pressure on your finger, it will take longer to heal it.
Of course, you can work out using the rest of your body, but watch out for your finger as any sudden or strenuous movement will just make the injury worse.
Also, you should keep your jammed finger elevated above the level of your heart. It will boost the blood circulation in your finger and reduce the discomfort connected with pain, inflammation, and swelling. It can help you cure your finger quickly too.
Elevation is actually a part of treatment of soft tissue injuries known as RICE. It stands for rest, ice, compression, elevation. If you include all the four elements immediately after the injury happened, it’s highly probable that you will heal it fast.
5. Try Turmeric
It may sound surprising, but if you are not a fan of medications, you may like the idea of a natural painkiller and an anti-inflammatory compound, which is curcumin found in turmeric. It will also boost proper blood circulation, which is crucial for a full treatment.
In case of a jammed finger, it’s worth using turmeric both internally and externally. For the internal use you can prepare a remedial drink. You only need to heat a glass of milk mixed with ½ teaspoon of turmeric. Drink it in the evening and it will not only help your injury, but also guarantee you a sound sleep.
For the external use mix a tablespoon of turmeric powder with two teaspoons of coconut oil, which you should warm up a little bit so it has a texture of a liquid. Blend the ingredients to get a thick paste.
Apply it on your jammed finger and wrap it with a bandage. Leave it for a few hours and then wash it off with warm water. You can follow this process even three times a day.
6. Use Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is a powerful combination of magnesium and sulfate, which can successfully eliminate pain, swelling, and inflammation. It’s important, though, to start using Epsom salt after 48 hours from the incident that caused the injury. There are two options which you can use to bring yourself some relief.
Add one tablespoon of Epsom salt to a small amount of warm coconut oil or olive oil. The ingredients should create a thick paste. Gently rub the mixture into your finger and massage it for about 10 minutes. After that time keep your finger in warm water for 10 minutes as well.
You can also prepare a bath for your jammed finger. Simply add two tablespoons of Epsom salt to one glass of hot water. Keep your finger in it for about 20 minutes and you should quickly notice a positive effect.
7. Go For Ginger
Ginger is another natural painkiller, which can easily be compared to medications, such as ibuprofen or aspirin. The most powerful compound of ginger is gingerol, which has wonderful pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory qualities due to the fact that it can block the release of the chemicals in our body that cause pain.
The easiest and at the same time the most tasteful way of using ginger is by preparing ginger tea. You just need to add one table spoon of freshly sliced ginger in two glasses of water.
Boil the mixture and then simmer it for about ten minutes. Drink it between the meals. You can add there some honey and lemon and you will also get a powerful mixture that will protect you from seasonal infections.
8. Olive Oli Massage
Another amazing remedy which you will find in your kitchen. Olive oil can successfully stop the production of enzymes which are responsible for pain and inflammation in your jammed finger. What’s more it’s also a natural moisturizer for your bruised finger. It will also reduce the unpleasant stiffness that accompanies the injury and it will boost the circulation of your blood.
All you need to do is gently massage a small amount of olive oil into your finger. Do it with circular movements for about five minutes. Do it even three times a day. For even a better effect you can also mix olive oil with a few drops of lavender oil or essential oil. Rub it into your skin twice a day.
In case the massage makes the pain stronger, consult your doctor as it may suggest a more serious injury.
9. Soothing Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera can naturally bring you relief from pain and inflammation that accompany your jammed finger. It’s also rich in amino acids and vitamins which will wonderfully moisturize bruised and soothe bruised skin. Aloe Vera will help you with soreness and stiffness of your joints too.
You just need a fresh Aloe Vera leaf, which you must cut and get some gel from it. Apply it on your finger and gently rub it into your skin. Leave it to dry, your skin will absorb the most of it, but any excess you can simply wipe off with a tissue. You can follow the procedure twice a day.
You can also use Aloe Vera internally as there is Aloe Vera juice available on the market. Drink two glasses of the juice a day and after a few days you should notice that both pain and inflammation have reduced.
10. Try Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree essential oil is widely known for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. It’s also a wonderful antiseptic, which can be used to prevent seasonal infections.
You can massage the oil into your finger, but remember to mix the tea tree oil with some carrier oil, for example olive oil first. Gently rub the mixture into your jammed finger with circular movements for about five minutes.
After the massage you should apply a hot compress on your finger as it will wonderfully improve the blood circulation and help you with the swelling. Follow the procedure in the morning and in the evening.
Where to Get a Medical Treatment for a Jammed Finger
If having a rest, home remedies, and over-the-counter products don’t seem to help your jammed finger, you’ve probably started to worry and think where you should seek medical help. Luckily, there are a few options for you.
1. Your Family Physician
If after a few days of resting your jammed finger and using home remedies, you don’t see any positive difference, the first doctor you should go to is your family physician. He will thoroughly examine you and give you the right diagnosis as there is a possibility that what you’ve been suffering from is not a jammed finger at all.
Other conditions which may have similar symptoms to a jammed finger include a minor hairline of fracture of the long bones in your finger. It might also be an avulsion fracture which is close to the joint. This type of fracture appears when a twisted ligament damages a piece of bone in your finger from the attachment site.
Another option is that your finger is broken. In such a case the doctor will fasten a special metal splint to your finger and probably you will have to keep it for even a few weeks. You may wonder how the doctor will identify your problem. He will check your hand manually first and if it doesn’t give him the answer, you will need x-rays.
X-rays will clearly show what the cause of your pain is. It may be a fracture or bone diseases, for example osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, infections of your bones. If your doctor wants to observe also the cartilage, tendons, and ligaments of your finger, he will recommend you MRI as it’s more detailed than x-rays. Remember, though, that x-rays should be done when your finger is not swollen anymore.
2. Visit a Chiropractor or Osteopath
It’s a good idea to make an appointment to an osteopath or a chiropractor as they are specialists who may restore full motion and functioning to the joints in your finger. They often use a technique known as manual joint manipulation, which may turn out to be very effective in case of a jammed finger or a dislocation of the finger.
An experienced specialist will simply unjam the injured joint. Don’t panic if during the procedure you hear a cracking sound as it usually means that your finger has just been adjusted to its normal position and you should feel immediate relief and improvement in mobility.
However, don’t expect a miracle as of course you may notice the first positive results after a single session, but it usually takes a few appointments to regain full motion in your injured finger. Manual joint manipulation is not recommended in case of rheumatoid arthritis, infections, or fractures.
3. Go to an Orthopedist
An orthopedist is an option if nothing seems to work on your finger, if you can feel that your symptoms are getting worse or after a few weeks you don’t return to full motion. If your injury is particularly problematic, he may offer you steroid injections or a minor surgery.
The most common injections include triamcinolone, dexamethasone, and prednisolone. They may quickly reduce the inflammation, swelling, and your finger should return to normal motion.
The only minus of steroid injections is that they may cause some unpleasant side effects, which include nerve damage and irritation, muscle atrophy in your finger, infection, and tendon weakening.
Remember that in case of a jammed finger you should avoid sudden movements and strenuous activities, especially the first days after the injury happened. The day you notice that the inflammation, swelling and pain reduced, try to move your finger, but do it slowly.
Use over-the-counter creams and gels, which can locally relieve the pain and inflammation. Their big disadvantage is that they don’t cause any side effects. Try to help your joints restore faster by taking supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids as they will lubricate your joints and restore the nerve tissue which was damaged. You will find them in fish oil mainly.
Ask your doctor about supplements that contain bromelain as it’s an enzyme that can boost your body to the production of natural substances which may reduce the inflammation and pain. If after a few days, you don’t see any improvement or even the symptoms get worse, don’t ignore the problem and make an appointment to an orthopedist.
Is My Finger Jammed or Broken?
If you have experienced a finger injury you may have wonder if it’s jammed or broken and if there is any way to tell the difference. Actually, without x-rays it’s rather difficult to give the right diagnosis. However, if your finger is broken apart from pain you may also experience deformity of the finger or joint dislocation.
A broken finger may be swollen, bruised, or stiff and all of these symptoms may appear after about ten minutes after an incident. Your other fingers can be affected too. Also, your finger may be numb as a result of nerves compression.
The first things you should do after the injury is make a simple splint and stabilize your finger even before your doctor sees it. Also, it’s a good idea to apply ice on your finger immediately as it can successfully reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain.
If any fragments of your bone are exposed, you need to visit the emergency room at once as it’s probably an open fracture. It’s potentially serious as it may be the cause of an infection if it’s left exposed for too long. A broken finger usually requires a reduction procedure in order to set the injured finger in its proper place.
A broken finger cures more quickly when it’s kept still in a splint or plaster cast. If the fracture is more serious, it may need a wire, plate or a screw for better stabilization. It often takes about five weeks to heal a broken finger. It’s important not to disturb the plaster cast or the splint. Remember also to keep your finger in a proper position.
You finger should be elevated as it reduces the swelling. Moreover, keep your finger area dry to prevent infections and rest your hand as much as possible until you see the improvement.
Even if you managed to cure your finger, it’s worth having a check-up and an x-ray to make sure that the bones in your finger are properly aligned and that your finger is fully recovered. It’s the only way to return to full movements and prevent permanent disabilities.
Remember, though, that only a doctor can decide if your finger is broken or jammed and then offer you the fight treatment.