ASK A DOCTOR: BROKEN FINGER By Christopher Bates on April 28, 2021

Dr. John Erickson explains when to visit a doctor for a broken finger.

If you recently injured your finger and are wondering if it is broken, the best thing to do is get an x-ray to find out. You can get x-rays in your physician’s office, urgent care, or local emergency room. Many breaks or fractures in the fingers can be misdiagnosed as “just a sprain” or a “jammed finger.” If a finger fracture is not treated appropriately, the long-term results may not be good. I have heard from many patients “I could still move it, so I didn’t think it was broken.” In many cases, a fracture causes the finger to be stiff and difficult to move; however, this is not true in all cases. When in doubt, get it checked out.

The signs of a broken finger are:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Stiffness
  • Numbness
  • Pain with range of motion
  • Deformity
  • Skin lacerations

If you see deformity and lacerations (cuts) in the skin, apply a splint to immobilize the finger, elevate the hand to reduce swelling, and wash the lacerations with running water to clean the area thoroughly. If the wound is bleeding, apply a clean bandage or cloth and hold pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. Please seek medical attention promptly.

Learn more about other finger injuries, including a jammed finger and fingertip injuries at www.handcare.org.


John M. Erickson, MD is a hand and arm specialist at the Raleigh Hand Center in Raleigh, NC. He is board-certified in orthopaedic surgery and completed additional fellowship training in hand and upper extremity surgery at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Erickson received his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and completed his orthopaedic surgery training at the University of Michigan Hospitals in Ann Arbor.

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Our physicians are associated with the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact us online or call (817) 420-9238.

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