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How To Determine If Your Finger Is Broken & Ways To Manage a Broken Finger

Fractured phalanges[1] or a broken finger is quite painful and usually shows immediate swelling. So, how to determine if your finger is broken? Knowing some of the early signs and symptoms that point at a possible broken finger, can help in better management and preventing complications.

How To Determine If Your Finger Is Broken?

How To Determine If Your Finger Is Broken?[2]

Broken finger is caused due to an external injury, however, one needs to consider the fact that all injuries may not result into a broken finger. Even a ligament tear or sprain in the finger can be equally painful and result out into swelling. So, the most important question is; how to determine if your finger is broken or not?

Following are some of the ways to detect it:-

  • Check the severity of pain – Although, a ligament tear or sprain may result out into an intense pain, however, the pain caused due to the broken finger is acute and you may experience tenderness while moving your finger. So, the pain is an obvious thing in both the cases, however, the only way to confirm the broken finger is an ‘acute, mostly severe pain’ and ‘tenderness’.
  • Check for Swelling – Unlike the swelling due to the sprain or ligament tear, swelling caused due to the fracture, would be accompanied by bruising because of the inflammatory response and increased fluid pressure on tissues. Swelling due to the broken finger is more evident than a ligament tear or sprain and this is the second way to confirm the fractured phalanges (broken finger). So, swelling is one of the most important factors when considering how to determine if your finger is broken.
  • Check for dislocation – In some cases of finger fracture (not all), the bones may get dislocated/misaligned resulting out into a deformed finger. This is a clear indication of a broken finger, which is different from other common forms of injury. This plays an important role when understanding how to determine if your finger is broken.

Ways to Manage a Broken Finger

After understanding how to determine if your finger is broken, here are some important tips to know how to manage a broken finger.

  • Home Remedy – [3]This is an immediate step that you can take when you lack access to medical care. To start with, ice the inflamed part for at least 15 minutes, every hour. Continue to do so for the next 48 hours. This will help to reduce the inflammation in the affected part and eventually will help in reducing pain. Simultaneously, also keep your finger elevated above the level of chest to keep the level of swelling low. This is one of the first step on how to manage to broken finger.
  • OTC Medications – NSAIDs helps in treating pain, inflammation as well as fever. Although, these are OTC medications, however, it is advised to continue or discontinue it as per the recommendations of the Orthopedic doctor. However, if medical care is not accessible and dealing with the fracture is becoming a daunting task, take NSAIDS (BD- twice a day) to get relief from the symptoms for the time being. This is the first line of treatment to manage to broken finger.
  • Orthopedic Consultant – Consult an orthopedic doctor, as soon as possible. The doctor, generally in such cases splints the fingers with the help of a medical tape so that the fractured finger remains stable. Further, along with the NSAIDs, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics and further treatment or tetanus vaccination may be considered, for open wounds. Depending on the severity of the injury, further plan of action will be decided that include regular follow-up, investigations and in certain cases, surgery.

One should be very careful in cases of broken finger. Delay in getting the medical care can result in permanent disability. Hence, knowing about how to determine if your finger is broken can help to seek early medical aid, which can help to manage the broken finger effectively without complications.


  1. Phalanx Fractures of the Hand – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
  2. Phalanx Fracture – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
  3. Hand fracture – aftercare: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 8, 2021

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