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X-Ray of right 5th finger showing an avulsion fracture.

What are the other Names for this Condition? (Also known as/Synonyms)

  • Broken Finger
  • Fracture of Finger
  • Fractured Finger

What is Finger Fracture? (Definition/Background Information)

  • A Finger Fracture is a common fracture that occurs, when one of more of the bones of the finger breaks/cracks
  • The majority of Finger Fractures are caused by a blow to the finger, or due to a direct fall
  • This injury predominantly occurs in athletes, who participate in rough or high-impact sports
  • Diagnosis of a Fracture of finger is made by physical examination and X-rays of the hand 
  • The prognosis of a Finger Fracture is usually excellent with appropriate treatment

Who gets Finger Fracture? (Age and Sex Distribution)

  • An individual of any age, gender, or race/ethnicity, may sustain a Finger Fracture
  • Fractured Fingers are more common in athletes, who participate in rough or high-impact sports

What are the Risk Factors for Finger Fracture? (Predisposing Factors)

Factors that increase the risk of Finger Fractures include:

  • Osteoporosis: Elderly individuals with osteoporosis; a disease that causes the bones to weaken and become brittle
  • Athletics: Individuals, who participate in certain contact or high-impact sports, such as football, basketball, soccer, wrestling, rugby, hockey, skiing, and snowboarding
  • Age: Elderly individuals have an increased risk of Finger Fractures that are caused by fall injuries
  • Poor nutrition: Individuals with an insufficient amount of calcium in their diet are higher prone to such fractures

It is important to note that having a risk factor does not mean that one will get the condition. A risk factor increases ones chances of getting a condition compared to an individual without the risk factors. Some risk factors are more important than others.

Also, not having a risk factor does not mean that an individual will not get the condition. It is always important to discuss the effect of risk factors with your healthcare provider.

What are the Causes of Finger Fracture? (Etiology)

Finger Fractures may occur due to the following causes:

  • Falls, causing a direct impact on the finger is one of the main causes of Finger Fractures
  • Direct trauma due to accidents: Any significant traumatic event, such as an automobile, motorcycle, or bicycle accident, may cause a Broken Finger(s)
  • Sports-related injury: Participating in certain sports that may involve rough play, such as football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, wrestling, rugby, hockey, skiing, and snowboarding
  • Fracture of the finger resulting from street fights, domestic violence, etc.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Finger Fracture? 

Any fracture to the finger can be very painful, making it difficult to move the digit/finger. Signs and symptoms of Fractured Fingers include:

  • Pain that may be severe
  • Finger stiffness; unable to bend, move the finger
  • Swollen, bruised finger
  • Deformed finger

How is Finger Fracture Diagnosed?

Common tests the healthcare providers may use to diagnose Finger Fracture include:

  • A thorough physical examination with a complete medical history
  • X-ray of hand and fingers:  X-rays are used to determine the extent of the fracture, identify the exact location, and also to see how the Fractured Finger affects the surrounding bones and joints

Many clinical conditions may have similar signs and symptoms. Your healthcare provider may perform additional tests to rule out other clinical conditions to arrive at a definitive diagnosis. 

What are the possible Complications of Finger Fracture?

Complications with Finger Fractures could include:

  • Medical conditions: Individuals with a Broken Finger may be at risk for certain medical conditions, such as osteoarthritis and osteomyelitis
  • Finger deformity: Fracture of the metacarpal bones may cause abnormal deformities
  • A fracture of finger can result in damage to nerves and/or blood vessels in the area of fracture site
  • Chronic pain: Any injury to the finger bones may result in prolonged and chronic pain

How is Finger Fracture Treated?

In most cases, Finger Fractures require surgery, although some may be treated without resorting to any invasive procedures.

Some non-surgical treatment methods include:

  • Rest: Any activity that aggravates the Fractured Finger or hand condition further should be avoided. The physician would usually advise individuals to refrain from such activities, until the condition improves
  • Splint or brace: Some type of padded brace or cast may be prescribed, to help restrict movement in the finger and promote healing
  • Ice: Applying ice to the finger can help in controlling the pain and reduce swelling
  • Antibiotics: Various antibiotics are available that may help treat or prevent infections. This is especially needed for fractures that result in an open wound
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication: Medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can help decrease the pain and swelling within the finger

Surgical treatment methods may include:

  • Open reduction: Open reduction is a surgical intervention technique to realign the bones. Orthopedic devices, such as plates, screws, and rods, are then used to sustain the bone in a proper position, during the healing process

How can Finger Fracture be Prevented?

It is always recommended to be careful and consciously aware, while performing any physical activities such as, sports, or even some normal daily activities that could lead to situations involving accidents. Children must be provided a safe environment to work, study or play; any probable dangers involved should be anticipated and safety measures adopted.

A few ways to further help prevent unwanted injuries or Finger Fractures include:

  • Build bone strength: Foods rich in calcium, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, help build bone strength. A regular diet with an appropriate calcium intake is recommended, even after such injuries. In women, the recommended amount of calcium increases with age and menopause. Calcium supplementation can help build stronger bones and treat calcium deficiency in the body. 
  • Prevent falls: Wearing appropriate footwear, such as the proper shoe size, may help prevent accidents, resulting in a Finger Fracture
  • Use protective gear: Wearing appropriate safety gear such as hand gloves, while playing sports can help prevent injuries from accidents
  • Undertake a proper treatment of osteoporosis through periodic DEXA scans for bone density screening

What is the Prognosis of Finger Fracture? (Outcomes/Resolutions)

  • The majority of Finger Fractures heal without any serious complications, although some require surgical intervention. It may typically take about 8 weeks for such fractures to heal
  • When properly treated and rehabilitated, a high percentage of individuals regain the full strength and range of motion in their injured finger

Additional and Relevant Useful Information for Finger Fracture:

It is important to mention the healthcare provider the exact circumstances that lead to the injury. This will help the examining healthcare provider to perform all the needed tests to assess the extent of damage.

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)
6300 North River Rd. Rosemont, IL 60018-4262
Phone: (847) 823-7186
Toll-Free: (800) 346-2267
Fax: (847) 823-8125
Email: hackett@aaos.org
Website: http://www.aaos.org

American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH)
822 W. Washington Boulevard Chicago, IL 60607
Phone: (312) 880-1900
Fax: (847) 384-1435
Email: info@assh.org
Website: http://www.assh.org

Orthopaedic Trauma Association
OTA Staff Office
6300 N. River Road, Suite 727 Rosemont, IL 60018-4226
Phone: (847) 698-1631
Fax: (847) 823-0536
Email: OTA@aaos.org
Website: http://ota.org

American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM)
9400 W. Higgins Road, Suite 300 Rosemont, IL 60018
Phone: (847) 292-4900
Toll-Free: (877) 321-3500
Fax: (847) 292-4905
Website: http://www.sportsmed.org

The Canadian Orthopaedic Association
4150 St. Catherine Street West Suite 450
Westmount, Quebec H3Z 2Y5
Phone: (514) 874-9003
Fax: (514) 874-0464
Website: http://www.coa-aco.org

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
P.O. Box 1036, Toronto, ON M5K 1P2
Phone: (416) 410-2341
Toll Free: 1 (800) 461-3639
Email: mailbox@canorth.org
Website: http://www.canorth.org

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00257 (accessed on 08/25/2014)

http://www.mayoclinic.com (accessed on 08/25/2014)

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Alexander, H., Langrana, N., Massengill, J. B., & Weiss, A. B. (1981). Development of new methods for phalangeal fracture fixation. Journal of biomechanics, 14(6), 377-387.

Bauze, A., & Bain, G. I. (1999). Internal suture for mallet finger fracture.Journal of Hand Surgery (British and European Volume), 24(6), 688-692.

Damron, T. A., Engber, W. D., Lange, R. H., McCabe, R., Damron, L. A., Ulm, M., & Vanderby, R. (1993). Biomechanical analysis of mallet finger fracture fixation techniques. The Journal of hand surgery, 18(4), 600-607.

Harken, D. E., Dexter, L., Ellis, L. B., Farrand, R. E., & Dickson III, J. F. (1951). The surgery of mitral stenosis: III. finger-fracture valvuloplasty. Annals of surgery, 134(4), 722.

Kung, W. M., & Lin, M. S. (2012). A simplified technique for polymethyl methacrylate cranioplasty: combined cotton stacking and finger fracture method. Brain Injury, 26(13-14), 1737-1742.

Hart, R. G., Kleinert, H. E., & Lyons, K. (2005). The Kleinert modified dorsal finger splint for mallet finger fracture. The American journal of emergency medicine, 23(2), 145-148.

Monasterio, M., Longsworth, K. A., & Viegas, S. (2015). Use of a bivalve finger fracture orthosis for a new treatment protocol of a PIP comminuted fracture and dorsal dislocation. Journal of Hand Therapy, 28(1), 77-81.

O'brien, L., & Presnell, S. (2010). Patient experience of distraction splinting for complex finger fracture dislocations. Journal of Hand therapy, 23(3), 249-260.