Jammed Finger vs. Broken Finger: How to Tell the Difference

Jammed Finger Vs Broken Finger

Fingers. They may be small, but what a major part they play in everything we do: getting dressed, eating, driving, buying groceries, bathing… So when you injure any of them, things can get exasperating pretty fast.

That said, sometimes, an injury results in a jammed finger, which may have a quick fix, while other injuries may result in a fracture.

In the interest of providing you with adequate care, below is a summary of how to tell whether you have a jammed or broken finger.

Differences Between a Jammed and a Broken Finger

If you injure any of the joints in your digits, you’ll have a jammed finger. It’s the type of injury you may experience if you shut a door or a drawer on your hand. A jammed finger is also possible when a forceful impact pushes your fingers into your hand, injuring the ligaments.

On the other hand (no pun intended, but it fits), a broken finger causes extreme pain. The kind of pain that will make you question life. However, there are several types of broken bones, ranging from a stress fracture, to the kind of injury where the bone pierces the skin.

Symptoms of a Jammed Finger

If you have a jammed finger, symptoms will include:

  • Sharp pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling of the injured joint
  • Weakness of the finger
  • Difficulty grabbing objects

Symptoms of a Broken Finger

If you have a broken finger, symptoms will include:

  • Excruciating pain
  • Bruising
  • Significant swelling
  • Unable to move that finger

Diagnosis & Treatment for a Jammed or Broken Finger

To confirm if there’s been a fracture, your doctor will order X-Rays of your hand.

For a Jammed Finger:

If the finger is jammed, the following are conservative treatment options:

  • Icing the injured joint for 20 minutes at a time
  • Immobilize the finger by taping it to the finger next to it or wearing a splint
  • Keep finger elevated by wearing a sling
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers

Keep the finger immobilized and at chest level for at least two weeks. However, you can stop icing it as soon as the swelling goes down for good.

For a Broken Finger:

If the fracture is minor, the doctor will immobilize it with a cast or a splint. It may be possible to include the fingers next to the injured one in the cast to provide additional support.

  • Ice the finger, but do not apply ice directly. Use a towel or rag around the ice.
  • Wear the cast for about four weeks. You’ll also likely need follow-up X-rays to confirm healing before removing it.
  • If you’re only wearing a splint, follow your doctor’s instructions.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers.

For more severe injuries, surgery may be necessary to realign the bone. It’s also important to note that if the bone pierced the skin, there’s a likelihood of developing a fever and/or infection. If this occurs, seek emergency care immediately.

Complications for a Jammed Finger

Complications for a jammed finger include damage to veins, permanent stiffness of the finger, post-traumatic arthritis, or deformity of the joint.

Complications for a Fractured Finger

Complications for a fractured finger include reduced range of motion, which can be treated with physical therapy. Other complications include deformity or nonunion, which are results of not receiving care promptly.

Finally, if a person is a smoker, diabetic, or has kidney issues, he or she could also develop osteomyelitis, which is an infection of the bone.

24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you have an injured finger, let us help you. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.