Finger Fractures

We use our hands every day to do our daily tasks, and this can sometimes put them under frequent pressure and forces. Fingers have the highest risk of injury out of all of the parts of a hand.

If a high amount of pressure is applied, the bones in the fingers can break or fracture. Fracturing a finger can limit the movement of the rest of the hand and disrupt your daily routine. Injury is the main cause of broken fingers, however, weakened bones can also put you at risk of fracturing your fingers. Finger fractures are a common injury, but if left untreated, they can leave you in pain, cause fingers to become misaligned and cause a feeling of tightness.

Fractures can occur if the nature of the injury is severe. However, the strength of bones can also cause a fracture. Osteoporosis and malnutrition both affect bone strength, so if you have either condition, you may be more likely to break a finger. Injuries to fingers can occur in many different ways, such as when playing sports, working with tools or breaking a fall with your hands. You can fracture the metacarpal bone (the bone connecting the little finger and the hand) when your hand hits something hard, as this makes up around one-third of adult hand fractures. The bones in your fingers are called phalanges, and each finger is made up of three, except for thumbs, which have two. When one or more phalange breaks, a fracture can occur in the finger. Knuckles can also be fractured, and any finger is prone to fracturing, depending on the cause of injury.

Defining symptoms of a fractured finger are pain, swelling of the finger, tenderness, inability to move a finger and your finger looking visibly misaligned. Some fractured fingers are not extremely painful or have minimal pain, so they can sometimes be overlooked. All fractures should be seen to, in order to treat or fix the fracture before it causes long-term issues. If these symptoms are ignored, long-term mobility issues can occur in the hand, and it can lead to mild forms of disability.

The Consultation

In your consultation, Dr Laniewski will inspect your hand and evaluate the symptoms present to determine if a fracture has occurred. An x-ray will be taken from several angles to determine the type of fracture, the amount of fractured bones, the stability and the severity. The x-ray will determine how your fingers compare on each hand, if overlapping occurs, if your finger is noticeably shorter and if the finger points in the wrong direction. Finger fractures can be classified via method of fracture, skin involvement and bone position. Dr Laniewski will need to determine if your fracture is open, closed, displaced or nondisplaced and if the break is straight through the bone, shattered completely, fractured in several pieces or a spiral. During your consultation, it will be determined if your fracture has injured your finger’s tendons, nerves or ligaments, as this requires extra treatment.

Finger Fractures Treatments

If you notice that an injury has occurred, these injuries can usually be treated with surgery and therapy. Dr Laniewski will create a care plan based on your unique fracture, and discuss what may be a suitable approach. Temporary treatments such as medication and applying ice can momentarily lessen pain from a fracture, however, further treatment will likely be needed.

The type of treatment needed will be determined by the location, stability and the extent of the break. If the fracture is stable, the finger will be taped either to the finger next to it or it will be put in a splint to aid the healing process. If you have an unstable fracture, the fragments of the fracture will be aligned and this procedure can be done under local anaesthesia.

In some cases, surgery is the only option to fix the fracture. Pins, screws, plates or wires can be used to hold the fracture in place whilst it heals. These aids can be removed after the healing process has occurred or they can be left in for life after a severe fracture. This procedure will be done under regional anaesthesia with an arm nerve block, or under general anaesthesia


The recovery process of a splint is approximately six to eight weeks as this is the average time it takes for a fractured finger to heal. During this time, you will be advised to avoid strenuous activities, and this recommendation will extend for another two weeks after the splint is removed. You typically will be instructed to move your fingers during this time to regain the motion in your hand.

Depending on the type of surgery, some patients are able to move their fractured finger right after surgery. Hand therapy is needed post-fracture to help regain hand movement. Recovery time for fractures post-surgery can take from a few weeks to a year, depending on the severity of the fracture and whether there was any nerve damage.

Who is Eligible for Surgery?

Those with severe fractures or nerve damage will need surgery to align their finger. Fractures that injure the phalanges are usually the type of fracture that needs surgery to set the finger in place for the healing process. This fracture is commonly caused by a finger being hit in a sports game and can result in pain, swelling and loss of movement.

Are There Risks to Finger Fracture Surgery?

Complications can occur in a finger fracture surgery, including stiffness of the finger, arthritis, infection and complex regional pain syndrome. The surgery can sometimes result in malunion of the bone or nonunion of the bone, which is a failure of the bone to heal. You will be able to discuss the risks of surgery during your consultation


How can I prevent a broken finger?

To prevent a broken or fractured finger, it is recommended to balance a healthy diet, take caution when doing strenuous activities and playing sports, get medical help with injuries, use proper sporting equipment and use walking aids if needed.

Can I go back to playing sports after surgery?

You may be able to return to activities within two to three weeks, but you will need to follow your personalised advice.

My finger is injured, but it doesn’t match the symptoms of a fracture. What else could it be?

In this instance, your finger could be jammed, sprained or dislocated, however it is best to confer with your doctor to confirm this and receive the appropriate treatment.