What is the treatment for a finger fracture?

A person with a fractured finger.

Treatment of a finger fracture usually involves realigning, or fixing, the bone and immobilizing it with a splint or cast. A finger fracture or broken finger can take up to six weeks to heal, but this recovery process is normally uneventful and without complications. Finger fracture is usually caused by a hard impact and the symptoms usually include pain, swelling, deformity and bruising.

A woman wearing a splint for a broken finger.

It is important to properly align and immobilize the finger fracture, as if this process is done incorrectly, the bones will not heal properly, resulting in stiffness, pain and reduced mobility. If a bone crush injury occurs, it may not be feasible to simply immobilize the finger. In these cases, surgery may be required to insert the hardware that will treat the break.

Nails can become bruised as a result of a finger fracture.

Pain is often a common complaint of broken finger. Taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication is often helpful in reducing pain and swelling. If the pain does not respond to over-the-counter pain relievers, the doctor may recommend prescription pain relievers.

Physical therapy may also be recommended to treat a finger fracture. Sometimes, after removing the cast, pain, stiffness and immobility persist. When this occurs, the healthcare professional may recommend a course of physical or occupational therapy to improve function.

A finger fracture can occur as a result of a fall.

Occasionally, when a finger fracture occurs, the nail is injured as well, and many times, the nail will discolor and eventually fall off. Other complications of a fractured finger include tissue damage. When the fracture occurs, the skin can break, creating an opportunity for infection. When this occurs, it is important that the wound is washed gently with soap and water to clean the wound.

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A finger fracture can take up to six weeks to heal.

When skin integrity is compromised as a result of a finger fracture, antibiotics may be recommended to prevent a bacterial infection. In addition, a tetanus booster may be recommended to prevent tetanus, a rare but serious complication of an open wound. Diagnosing a fractured or broken finger is usually straightforward with an x-ray of the finger.

Usually only the affected finger is immobilized; however, some healthcare professionals choose to immobilize neighboring fingers to reinforce support. The splint is usually worn for approximately three weeks and then removed. Sometimes additional diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, will be performed to assess healing and monitor hardware if surgery has been performed. If the recovery period is not complicated, further treatment is usually not necessary unless symptoms such as pain or swelling persist.

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