Broken Finger - Experience

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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 (phalanxs) 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 phalanxs (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 phalanx; the second bone is the middle phalanx; and the smallest and farthest from the hand is the distal phalanx. The thumb does not have a middle phalanx.
  • 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 metacarpophalanxal 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-phalanxal 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-phalanxal joint (DIP). Injuries to this joint usually involve a fracture or torn tendon (avulsion) injury.
Bones of the Hand
Bones of the Hand
Return to Broken Finger

See what others are saying

Comment from: Chesapeake, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 15

I got my index finger caught between two shopping carts slamming together, a couple of months ago. I thought the pain and swelling in the joint between the intermediate and distal end of the index finger was just a sprain so I did not go to doctor. Now the joint is permanently swollen twice the size of my other index finger joint and I am unable to curl my finger closed all the way, and I notice I cannot lift weight with it.

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Comment from: HelpIsOnTheWay, 75 or over Female (Caregiver) Published: October 08

I just recovered from a broken thumb. When you have a broken thumb, the middle part will usually stick out. Mine broke when my daughter pushed me while I did a front flip and I landed on my thumb. It was so painful. It got numb and started throbbing. I would immediately seek medical assistance.

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