Just jammed your fin­ger?

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH - MAYO CLINIC NEWS NET­WORK

A jammed fin­ger is typ­i­cally a sprain to the joint or knuckle of the fin­ger. There may also be a small frac­ture or dis­lo­ca­tion of the joint.

The in­jury can be ex­tremely painful, and the joint usu­ally be­comes swollen. A jammed fin­ger is a com­mon sports in­jury. For ex­am­ple, your fin­ger­tip re­ceives the full im­pact of a hard hit baseball, bas­ket­ball re­bound or vol­ley­ball spike.

This type of in­jury may also re­sult for other rea­sons. You reach out your arm to break a fall, and your fin­ger jabs into the ground. The re­sult is of­ten a jammed fin­ger. This type of in­jury usu­ally heals quickly if there is no frac­ture, though the pain may linger for months when di­rect pres­sure is ap­plied to the fin­ger. To treat a jammed fin­ger: Ice the fin­ger with a cold pack for 15 min­utes, or place the fin­ger in ice wa­ter. El­e­vate your hand to re­duce swelling. To pro­tect the fin­ger dur­ing use: Buddy tape the in­jured fin­ger to an ad­ja­cent fin­ger. Use a self-ad­he­sive wrap to tape above and be­low the fin­ger joint — for ex­am­ple, in­dex fin­ger to mid­dle fin­ger or ring fin­ger to small fin­ger. Seek med­i­cal care if: Your fin­ger ap­pears de­formed. You can­not straighten your fin­ger. The area be­comes hot and in­flamed and you de­velop a fever.

Swelling and pain be­come sig­nif­i­cant or per­sis­tent.

The fin­ger be­comes numb and turns white or pale.

Chil­dren re­quire med­i­cal care be­cause dam­age to the growth plate of a fin­ger bone can lead to long-term de­for­mity.

Try the R.I.C.E. ap­proach for any strain or sprain — rest, ice, com­pres­sion, el­e­va­tion:

Rest. Avoid ac­tiv­i­ties that cause pain, swelling or dis­com­fort. But don’t avoid all phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. In­stead, give your­self rel­a­tive rest. With an an­kle sprain, you can usu­ally still ex­er­cise other mus­cles to pre­vent de­con­di­tion­ing. For ex­am­ple, you could use an ex­er­cise bi­cy­cle, work­ing both your arms and the un­in­jured leg while rest­ing the in­jured an­kle on a footrest peg. That way you still ex­er­cise three limbs and keep up your car­dio­vas­cu­lar con­di­tion­ing.

Ice. Even if seek­ing med­i­cal help, ice the area im­me­di­ately. Use an ice pack or slush bath of ice and wa­ter for 15 to 20 min­utes each time and re­peat ev­ery two to three hours while you’re awake for the first few days fol­low­ing the in­jury. Cold re­duces pain, swelling and in­flam­ma­tion in in­jured mus­cles, joints and con­nec­tive tis­sues. It also may slow bleed­ing if a tear has oc­curred. If the iced area turns white, stop treat­ment im­me­di­ately. This could in­di­cate frost­bite. If you have vas­cu­lar dis­ease, di­a­betes or de­creased sen­sa­tion, talk with your doc­tor be­fore ap­ply­ing ice.

Com­pres­sion. To help stop swelling, com­press the area with an elas­tic ban­dage un­til the swelling stops. Don’t wrap it too tightly or you may hin­der cir­cu­la­tion. Be­gin wrap­ping at the end far­thest from your heart. Loosen the wrap if the pain in­creases, the area be­comes numb or swelling is oc­cur­ring be­low the wrapped area.

El­e­va­tion. To re­duce swelling, el­e­vate the in­jured area above the level of your heart, es­pe­cially at night, which al­lows grav­ity to help re­duce swelling.

Com­mon pain med­i­ca­tions such as ibupro­fen and ac­etaminophen also can be help­ful.

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