Broken Finger

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Broken finger facts

  • Finger fractures may account for up to 10% of all fractures.
  • The finger bones are named according to their relationship to the palm of the hand. The first bone, closest to the palm, is the proximal phalange. The second bone is the middle phalange. The smallest and farthest from the hand is the distal phalange. The thumb does not have a middle phalange.
  • Traumatic injury is the main cause of broken fingers, and it occurs from playing sports, workplace, injury, punching something, falls, or in other accidents.
  • The main symptoms of a broken finger are pain immediately after the trauma, and sometimes a deformed finger. If the trauma is severe, broken bones may be exposed (called a compound fracture).
  • If pain or swelling limits the motion or use of the fingers, if the finger becomes numb, or if the injury includes a laceration, crushed tissue, or exposure of bone, seek medical care.
  • The mainstay of diagnosing finger fractures is an X-ray.
  • Treatment of broken fingers depends on the type of fracture and the particular bone in the finger that is injured.
  • Complications of a broken finger can include join stiffness, rotation, nonunion, and infection.
  • After reduction, immobilization, and four to six weeks of healing, the prognosis for healing is excellent for a broken finger.
  • The best medicine for prevention of finger fractures is safety. Always use safety equipment when doing activities that may injure the hands.

Broken finger introduction

Fingers are easily injured, and broken fingers are some of the most common traumatic injuries seen in an emergency room. Fractures of the finger bones (phalanges) and the bones in the palm of the hand (metacarpal bones) are the most common fractures, accounting for 10% of all fractures. Because fingers are used for many everyday activities, they are at higher risk than other parts of the body for traumatic injury, including sports injuries, workplace injuries, and other accidents.

Understanding the basic anatomy of the hand and fingers is useful in understanding different types of finger injuries, broken fingers, and how some treatments differ from others.

The hand is divided into three sections: 1) wrist, 2) palm, and 3) fingers.

1. The wrist has eight bones, which move together to allow the vast ranges of motion of the wrist.

2. The palm or mid-hand is comprised of the metacarpal bones. The metacarpal bones have muscular attachments and bridge the wrist to the individual fingers. These bones frequently are injured with direct trauma such as a crush injury, or most commonly, a punching injury.

3. The fingers are the most frequently injured part of the hand. Fingers are constructed of ligaments (strong supportive tissue connecting bone to bone), tendons (attachment tissue from muscle to bone), and three  phalanges (bones). There are no muscles in the fingers; and fingers move by the pull of forearm muscles on the tendons.

  • The three bones in each finger are named according to their relationship to the palm of the hand. The first bone, closest to the palm, is the proximal phalange; the second bone is the middle phalange; and the smallest and farthest from the hand is the distal phalange. The thumb does not have a middle phalange.
  • The knuckles are joints formed by the bones of the fingers and are commonly injured or dislocated with trauma to the hand.
    • The first and largest knuckle is the junction between the hand and the fingers - the metacarpophalangeal joint (MCP). This joint commonly is injured in closed-fist activities and is commonly known as a boxer's fracture.
    • The next knuckle out toward the fingernail is the proximal inter-phalangeal joint (PIP). This joint may be dislocated in sporting events when a ball or object directly strikes the finger.
    • The farthest joint of the finger is the distal inter-phalangeal joint (DIP). Injuries to this joint usually involve a fracture or torn tendon (avulsion) injury.

Bones of the Hand
Picture of the bones of the hand

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/21/2013

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Broken Finger - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with a broken finger.
Broken Finger - Symptoms Question: What were the symptoms associated with a broken finger?
Broken Finger - Treatment Question: What was the treatment for your broken finger?
Broken Finger - Diagnosis Question: Describe the tests that led to a diagnosis of a broken finger.
Broken Finger - Complications Question: What complications did you experience with your broken finger?

STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!