Jammed finger: Could it be serious?

By: Anna Acosta, M.D., pediatric hand and upper extremity surgeon, Orthopedic Center, MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach

Your child just smashed their finger in the door. Or maybe they caught a ball the wrong way. Now their finger is swollen and painful to move. These could be signs of a jammed finger, a condition that occurs when the finger is bent back or compressed at the joint.

As our kids become more active in sports and activities, jammed fingers become more common. When a jammed finger occurs, it can stretch or even tear the tissues around the finger joint, which can cause a sprain. However, if the impact on the finger is great enough, it can cause tendon damage or a bone fracture. Although the bones in the hand are small, a broken (fractured) finger is not a minor injury.

Signs of a finger fracture include:

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Difficulty moving the finger
  • Deformity of the finger

If you see any of these signs in your child, it’s important to seek medical treatment to prevent permanent damage. Untreated sprains and fractures in the hand can cause long-term stiffness, loss of motion and arthritis.

There are several treatment options for fractured fingers depending on the severity, including splinting, casting, surgery and rehabilitation.

To determine if your child’s finger is fractured, they will need an x-ray. Because a child’s bones are smaller and still growing, they will look very different than adult bones. It’s important to find a children’s hospital and pediatric specialists, such as a pediatric hand surgeons, who are experts in treating kids with conditions affecting the hand, wrist, arm and shoulder.

The Orthopedic Center at Miller Children’s & Women’s specializes in treating congenital and acquired hand and upper limb conditions, deformities and injuries. Advanced surgical techniques are used to restore hand function and correct hand and limb deformity and deficiency.

Because the hand is such a delicate balance of working parts, even minor abnormalities or injuries may cause a significant decrease in hand function or changes in appearance. The goal with treatment is to create the best functional and cosmetic results for each child.

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