Common Causes of Finger Injuries

Finger pain is common. Symptoms can be the result of an acute injury, including broken fingers and sprains, or chronic conditions, such as arthritis. Once you know the cause of your finger pain, you can determine what steps can be taken for the treatment of your condition. 


finger fracture
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Finger fractures come in many shapes and sizes. Most finger fractures have simple treatments while others may require surgical treatment. What is most important is that finger fractures are appropriately diagnosed, so the best treatment plan can be initiated.

Sprains & Dislocations

dislocated finger
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Finger sprains and dislocations are common injuries. Both sprains and dislocations cause damage to the ligaments that support the finger joints—in more severe injuries, a dislocation may occur, necessitating the finger to be "put back into place" or "reduced." Patients who have a sprain or dislocation often notice finger swelling or stiffness for months following their injury.

Gamekeeper's Thumb

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The gamekeeper's thumb is the result of a specific type of thumb dislocation. In this injury, the ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb is damaged. This ligament prevents the thumb from pointing too far away from the hand. Often this type of ligament injury requires surgery.  The traditional name for this condition is from an English hunting injury—that's why it's called a Gamekeeper's Thumb. (Many people think this word comes from soccer as goalies often sustain this injury, but the Gamekeeper is actually a hunting term.) Some people also call this injury Skier's Thumb.

Finger Arthritis

finger arthritis
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Joints are places in your body where two bones come together. Arthritis is a problem that causes damage to normal joint surfaces. There are two types of arthritis that commonly affect the fingers: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Fingers are one of the most common locations for arthritis to affect people. And while people with hip and knee arthritis may need invasive treatments more often, finger arthritis is often an annoyance that worsens as people age.

Thumb Arthritis

thumb arthritis
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Arthritis of the thumb usually occurs at the joint found at the base of the thumb—where the thumb meets the wrist. This joint, called the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint, is important when trying to grip or pinch. Thumb arthritis is more common in women than men and increases in frequency over the age of 40.

Trigger Finger

trigger finger
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Trigger finger is a common problem that causes pain and snapping of the tendons in the fingers. The problem that occurs in a patient who has trigger finger is due to the tendons of the fingers and the sheath in which these tendons live. Treatments can vary from observation, rest, splinting, injections, and surgery. The good news is that there is a treatment that suits just about everyone's interests.

Mallet Finger

mallet finger
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A mallet finger is an injury to the tip of the finger. Usually, someone who sustains a mallet finger injury describes "jamming" their finger. After the injury has occurred, the individual may notice that they are unable to fully straighten the tip of the finger. Treatment can almost always be accomplished with a splint. The hard part is that the splint needs to stay on for usually about six weeks without removal. Only in unusual cases is a surgical procedure necessary.

Jersey Finger

A detail of a splint on the finger of Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks against the Miami Heat in Game Two of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 2, 2011 in Miami, Florida.

A jersey finger is an injury to the flexor tendon of the finger. The flexor tendon pulls the finger down into the palm as you contract the flexor muscles of the forearm. The injury occurs at the tip of the finger and typically the tendon snaps back to the base of the finger or even into the palm of the hand.

Ring Injuries

ring finger injury
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Injuries to the finger while wearing wedding bands or other jewelry on the finger can lead to serious complications. Even seemingly minor injuries can have devastating complications if the severity of the injury is not recognized. If an injury occurs while wearing jewelry, and there is a question of soft tissue damage including blood flow to the finger, immediate medical attention is necessary.


bloody finger
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Finger amputations are serious injuries that can cause significant changes in the ability to perform activities with your hands. Therefore, if your finger is cut off, surgeons may attempt to reattach the severed digit. Not all fingers should be reattached, but you should have an immediate evaluation to determine the appropriate treatment for your injury.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  6. Deveza LA, Hunter DJ, Wajon A, et al. Efficacy of combined conservative therapies on clinical outcomes in patients with thumb base osteoarthritis: protocol for a randomised, controlled trial (COMBO). BMJ Open. 2017;7(1):e014498. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014498

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By Jonathan Cluett, MD
Jonathan Cluett, MD, is board-certified in orthopedic surgery. He served as assistant team physician to Chivas USA (Major League Soccer) and the United States men's and women's national soccer teams.