Broken Finger

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What are the causes of a broken finger?

Traumatic injury is the main cause of broken fingers. Most commonly, traumatic injury to the finger occurs from playing sports, workplace injuries, falls, or other accidents.

What are the symptoms of a broken finger?

The main symptoms of a broken finger are pain immediately after the trauma, and sometimes a deformed finger.

  • A true fracture usually will be painful, but a broken finger may still have some range of motion and dull pain, and the individual may still be able to move it. Depending on the fracture stability, some fractures may be more painful than others.
  • Usually within 5-10 minutes, swelling and bruising of the finger will occur and the finger will stiffen. Swelling may affect the adjacent fingers as well.
  • Numbness of the finger may occur either from the trauma of the injury itself, or because swelling compresses the nerves in the fingers.
  • Fractures to the finger tip (distal phalanx) are common from smashing injuries to the fingernail. The symptoms of this type of injury may be swelling and bruising to the finger pad and purple-colored blood underneath the fingernail (subungual hematoma).
  • If the trauma is severe, broken bones may be exposed (called a compound fracture).
Picture of a Subungual Hematoma
Picture of a Subungual Hematoma

When should I see a doctor for a broken finger?

  • After injury, if pain or swelling limits the motion or use of the fingers, or if the finger becomes numb, seek medical care.
  • If the injury to the finger includes a laceration, crushed tissue, or exposure of bone, the individual should go to an emergency department for immediate medical care.
  • Some fractures of the fingers may be subtle and the pain may be tolerable, so if a person suspects that they may have a finger fracture, seek medical attention.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/29/2015

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