What Happens If You Leave a Fractured Finger Untreated?

What Happens If You Leave a Fractured Finger Untreated?

Posted on 09/09/2021

When it comes to hand injuries, the fingers tend to have the highest risk. All the fingers have several bones called phalanges. A fractured finger occurs when one or several of the bones crack or break. 

A fracture can also occur on the knuckles, the joints where the phalanges meet. A fractured finger can be caused by injury when using tools or when hit by a fast-moving object. It can also be caused by a fall or by slamming the hand on a door. 


Different Types of Finger Fractures

There are different types of fractures depending on the type of injury.

  • An avulsion fracture occurs when a tendon or ligament and the bone it is attached to detach from the main bone.
  • A shear fracture occurs when a force causes the bone to split. 
  • An impacted fracture occurs when broken bones are driven into each other.

A fracture can either be open or closed depending on whether or not it breaks the skin. The bone position will determine the type of fracture. 


High Risk of Fractured Fingers

Some people have a higher risk of fracturing their fingers than others. People who have weak bones are at high risk for finger fractures. These include the elderly and people who have a calcium deficiency. 

Individuals who work with their hands, such as manual laborers, have an increased risk of hand fractures. Athletes or those involved in some sporting activities are at high risk. These are sports like boxing, wrestling, basketball, volleyball, baseball, hockey, and rugby.  


Symptoms of Fractured Fingers

Several symptoms indicate a fractured finger. The symptoms include swelling, pain, tenderness, and a reduced range of motion. In some cases, the finger might look out of alignment or misshapen. 

However, this is more likely in a case of a severely broken finger. A broken finger can be extremely painful especially if you try to move it. It is important to get treatment for a fractured finger, even when the pain may be tolerable. 


Diagnosing and Treating a Fractured Finger

A physical examination is necessary for diagnosing a fractured finger. After taking a medical history and examining the finger, an X-ray will be carried out to determine the type of injury. Treatment of a fractured finger will depend on the location and stability of the injury. 

When treating a stable fracture, the injured finger may be taped to an adjacent finger. An unstable fracture will need to be immobilized, and this is usually done using a splint. In some cases, surgery is necessary to treat a displaced or unstable fracture.


Failing to Treat a Fractured Finger

Some people fail to get treatment for a fractured finger, arguing that the fracture will heal on its own. Unfortunately, this can result in nerve damage, chronic pain, reduced hand function, stiffness, and other complications. 

Simply applying ice and splinting the finger yourself is not enough as you do not know the extent of the injury. If the finger is not properly aligned, it can affect the healing process, which can lead to permanent disability.  

After treatment of the fracture, it is important to rest the injured hand as much as possible. Activity can aggravate the injury, causing increased pain.

For more on fractures and their treatment, visit East Bay Hand & Upper Extremity at our office in Oakland, California. You can call 510.904.1100 today to schedule an appointment.


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