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Ask the Docs | Jammed Finger

Ask the Docs
Posted March 19, 2007

  • AthletiCo Bulls' Injury Report

    Patient Question:
    While playing basketball this week I jammed my finger trying to catch a hot pass. The finger is now tender, swollen, and painful when I bend it. Could this be serious? Should I have X-rays?

    Dr. Mark Cohen:
    One of the most common basketball hand injuries is a jammed finger. A jammed finger occurs from a blunt impact or forced motion to the proximal interphalangeal joint (or PIP for short) of the fingers. Depending on the severity of the impact, which will stress the ligaments at your PIP, there are varying degrees of this injury. It sounds like you probably suffered from a simple jam, although there is a possibility that it could be a more serious finger fracture or dislocation.

    Symptoms of a jam to the PIP include swelling, loss of range of motion, pain, and tenderness to touch. This type of injury can occur on the basketball court, while playing baseball, or even falling while riding a bike. Depending on the severity of the injury, the healing process can take from two to eight weeks.

    Dr. Cohen
    Dr. Cohen
    Treatment Options:
    In most cases we recommend RICE therapy which involves the following steps: resting the injured finger/hand; icing the finger 15 minutes every hour for the first 48 hours; compressing the finger with a splint to keep it from bending; and elevating the finger above chest level. After 48 hours, switch over from ice to heat.

    If symptoms persist or worsen, or if full mobility does not return in a matter of days, be sure to see an orthopaedic physician. Your physician will likely take X-ray to rule out a finger fracture, and may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce swelling. Your physician may also prescribe a customized stretching and strengthening program during the rehabilitation stage. Formal therapy may be required in more severe cases.

    For more information about Dr. Cohen and the Sports Medicine physicians of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, call 877.MD BONES or visit them online at www.rushortho.com.

    The information contained on this page is intended only for general public education, and is not intended to serve as a substitute for direct medical advice. This information should not replace necessary medical consultations with a qualified orthopaedic physician.



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