A jammed finger is often not considered a serious injury, but it is one of the most common sports injuries out there. It can happen in any sport, and while athletes can often play through the pain, like any injury, it should be addressed.
A jammed finger occurs when there is a forceful blow to the tip of the finger while it is straight, like catching a hard chest pass or a football on the tips of your fingers. While it often feels like the finger has been somehow pushed in, the injury actually occurs to the tendon that runs along the top of your finger. The tendon becomes tore and pain is caused by inflammation.
Most jammed fingers are not serious and can be treated at home, leaving many athletes to not even seek medical attention for it. The most common treatment in the field is to yank on the jammed finger to help alleviate that "pushed in" feeling. Under no circumstances should this be used as treatment. Pulling on the tip of the finger can actually make a jammed finger worse by further tearing the tendon or, if pulled hard enough, dislocating the tip of the finger.
The best treatment for a minor jammed finger is the RICE method - Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It is best to first ice the finger to relieve any swelling, keeping the ice on for 15 minutes on and then 15 minutes off, repeating as needed.
After the swelling has gone down, a splint is the best way to both rest and compress your finger. Splints can be easily bought at pharmacies, but many athletic medical kits will have items to help create a quick make-shift splint.
Finally, keep the finger elevated above the level of the heart to help fluid and excess blood to drain from the area. This will help reduce any further swelling.
When to See a Doctor?
After the finger jam, if there are any noticeable deformities, bruising, or if your finger is immobilized, athletes should see a doctor right away. These are all symptoms of something much more serious than a jammed finger like dislocations or fractures. If these injuries are left unattended, they can result in serious damage such as loss of mobility in the finger.
Even if it is a suspected jam, it is still best to seek the opinion of a doctor, particularly is the swelling has not gone down after a day or has gotten worse.
Most athletes bounce right back after a jammed finger, healing within a week and coming back with a full range of motion in the tip of their fingers. However, sports like football and basketball put athletes at frequent risk for jammed fingers. Like many injuries, after it happens once, it is more likely to happen again. However, there are ways of preventing the injury such as fitted gloves and taping up the knuckle of the at risk area. Athletes may also benefit from grip spray that helps repel water and sweat allowing player to better grip at the ball without having to rely as heavily on their fingers tips, putting them at lower risk for jams.
For athlete that find that one finger is consistently getting jammed up, these preventative measures are a must to preserve the tendon and prevent even more serious injuries like dislocation or even a broken finger after the tendon wears down.
Are you suffering from a jammed finger? Contact us, we can help get you set up with everything that you need to both treat and prevent jammed fingers so you never have to warm the bench again.