Page header image

Finger Fracture

What is a finger fracture?

A finger fracture is a crack or break of a bone in your finger.

What is the cause?

A finger fracture usually happens from hitting a hard object with the finger, being hit by a ball, getting a finger slammed in a door, or falling onto your hand.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • pain, swelling, bruising, or tenderness
  • trouble moving the finger
  • a crooked looking finger

How is it diagnosed?

Your provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and how the injury happened. He or she will examine your child. Your child will have X-rays of the finger.

A child's bones are different from an adult’s bones in a couple ways. A child’s bones are more flexible and may crack rather than break. Or they may just buckle slightly. Also, the bones are still growing from areas near the ends of the bones called growth plates. A fracture in a growth plate may affect the growth of the bone but it may be hard to see with X-rays. Sometimes special tests are needed to diagnose fractures in the growth plate.

How is it treated?

The treatment depends on the type of fracture. If the broken bone is crooked, your healthcare provider will straighten it. Your child will be given medicine first so the straightening is not painful. Sometimes surgery is needed to put the bones back into the correct position.

Your healthcare provider may put the finger in a splint. Depending on the type of fracture the splint may be on the bottom of the finger or the top. Your provider will decide if the finger should be kept straight or slightly bent. Your child will need to wear the splint for 3 to 6 weeks, depending on the injury.

Some finger fractures don't need to be splinted. They only need to be taped to the finger next to the injured finger (called buddy taping).

How can I take care of my child?

Follow the full course of treatment your healthcare provider prescribes. Also:

  • To keep swelling down and help relieve pain, your healthcare provider may tell you to:
    • Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth on the injured area every 3 to 4 hours for up to 20 minutes at a time for the first day or two after the injury.
    • Keep the injured hand up on pillows when your child sits or lies down.
    • Give your child pain medicine, such as ibuprofen, as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, your child should not take the medicine for more than 10 days. Check with your healthcare provider before you give any medicine that contains aspirin or salicylates to a child or teen. This includes medicines like baby aspirin, some cold medicines, and Pepto-Bismol. Children and teens who take aspirin are at risk for a serious illness called Reye's syndrome.

Depending on the type of injury and how it was treated, your child may need to do special exercises to help the finger get stronger. Most of the time preteen children are so active that they get stronger and more flexible without physical therapy.

Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests. Call your healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has more pain, redness, warmth, or swelling.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has a loss of feeling in the injured area.
  • The injured area looks pale or blue or feels cold.

How long will the effects last?

It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for a broken finger to heal. Sometimes it may take weeks or months for the swelling to go away, and in some cases the finger may stay swollen. Some fingers are crooked after the fracture heals. However, most simple finger fractures heal without any problems. If the fracture goes into a joint your finger may keep feeling stiff and lose some flexibility.

How can a finger fracture be prevented?

Most finger fractures happen from accidents that are not easy to prevent.

Written by Pierre Rouzier, MD for RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2012.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-01-30
Last reviewed: 2012-01-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2012 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
Page footer image