Jammed Finger vs. Broken Finger

Jammed Finger vs. Broken Finger

Posted on 03/16/2023

A jammed finger and a broken finger are common injuries that can result in pain, swelling, and trouble moving your finger. However, each is typically caused by different types of trauma. They also have different treatment options and symptoms. Here is a detailed look at both injuries.


What Is a Jammed Finger?

A jammed finger can also be referred to as a sprain. It is a prevalent injury where the ligaments connecting your bones to the finger are suddenly torn or stretched. The injury often occurs to the joint in the middle of the finger—at the region that bends in half. It is also known as the proximal interphalangeal joint or PIP.

Your finger has small ligaments that support the PIP joint called collateral ligaments. You experience a jammed finger when these ligaments are strained or overstretched.

The injury can occur when there is too much impact on the finger, like getting it caught in a ball during a game or hitting it on a door.


Symptoms of a Jammed Finger

When you have a jammed finger, you will experience the following:


  • Difficulty moving the finger

  • Swelling and redness

  • Moderate pain

  • Weakness, usually when trying to hold an object

Depending on the severity of the injury, the pain might be severe or mild. In some instances, the finger may appear discolored or bruised.


Treating a Jammed Finger

While a jammed finger can cause pain and discomfort, it is not a severe injury. Its treatment includes over-the-counter pain medications, ice, and rest. Your doctor may recommend wearing a brace or splint to immobilize the finger.


What Is a Broken Finger?

Unlike a jammed finger, a broken finger causes severe pain lasting from a few hours to days. However, this injury is also not severe despite being painful. Your doctor can tell if you have a broken or jammed finger just by looking at it.

Also known as a fracture, a broken bone occurs when a bone in your finger breaks or cracks. A direct impact on the finger often causes it. Examples include hitting it with a hammer or getting caught by a slamming door.


Symptoms of a Broken Finger

You will experience excruciating pain, stiffness, and swelling of the finger. Additionally, it may appear bent out of shape or deformed. In extreme instances, you may have a bone bulging towards the skin or noticeably sticking out of it.


Treatment of a Broken Finger

The treatment for this type of injury typically involves immobilizing the finger with a cast or splint, in addition to over-the-counter pain medication. However, your doctor may recommend surgery in some cases. Surgery may be necessary to realign the bones to ensure proper healing of the broken bone. You may also need physical therapy to strengthen your finger and improve your range of motion.

The recovery time for a broken finger varies with the type of treatment received and the severity of the injury. Typically, these injuries heal within six to eight weeks. More severe fractures may take longer.

For more on broken fingers and jammed fingers, visit East Bay Hand & Upper Extremity at our Oakland, California office. Call 510.904.1100 to schedule an appointment today.


Please contact us today to schedule an appointment or get more information about our hand and upper extremity surgical services.