John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
- Broken finger facts
- Broken finger introduction
- What are the causes of a broken finger?
- What are the symptoms of a broken finger?
- When should I see a doctor for a broken finger?
- How is a broken finger diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for a broken finger?
- What are the complications of a broken finger?
- How can a broken finger be prevented?
- Patient Comments: Broken Finger - Experience
- Patient Comments: Broken Finger - Symptoms
- Find a local Doctor in your town
Broken finger facts
- Finger fractures may account for up to 10% of all fractures.
- The finger bones are named according to their relationship to the palm of the hand. The first bone, closest to the palm, is the proximal phalange. The second bone is the middle phalange. The smallest and farthest from the hand is the distal phalange. The thumb does not have a middle phalange.
- Traumatic injury is the main cause of broken fingers, and it occurs from playing sports, workplace, injury, punching something, falls, or in other accidents.
- The main symptoms of a broken finger are pain immediately after the trauma, and sometimes a deformed finger. If the trauma is severe, broken bones may be exposed (called a compound fracture).
- If pain or swelling limits the motion or use of the fingers, if the finger becomes numb, or if the injury includes a laceration, crushed tissue, or exposure of bone, seek medical care.
- The mainstay of diagnosing finger fractures is an X-ray.
- Treatment of broken fingers depends on the type of fracture and the particular bone in the finger that is injured.
- Complications of a broken finger can include join stiffness, rotation, nonunion, and infection.
- After reduction, immobilization, and four to six weeks of healing, the prognosis for healing is excellent for a broken finger.
- The best medicine for prevention of finger fractures is safety. Always use safety equipment when doing activities that may injure the hands.
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 (phalanges) 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 phalanges (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 phalange; the second bone is the middle phalange; and the smallest and farthest from the hand is the distal phalange. The thumb does not have a middle phalange.
- 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 metacarpophalangeal 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-phalangeal 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-phalangeal joint (DIP). Injuries to this joint usually involve a fracture or torn tendon (avulsion) injury.
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