Treating a Jammed Finger

Often, a jammed finger can be treated at home if there isn’t a fracture or break

A jammed finger is when the tip of your finger is forcefully pushed toward the hand, causing the joint to become compressed. This can cause ligaments to stretch, sprain, or tear. Also known as a sprained finger, it causes pain and swelling in one or more of your fingers or finger joints.

While a jammed finger can be painful, you should be able to move it. If you are unable to wiggle it, it may be broken or dislocated and may require x-rays. If no fractures or dislocations occur, a jammed finger can often heal with at-home treatment.

This article explains how to treat a jammed finger. You’ll also learn when to see a healthcare provider for a jammed finger.

How to Treat a Jammed Finger
Verywell / JR Bee

Icing a Jammed Finger

The first step to take after you jam your finger is icing the injury and keeping it elevated. You can use an ice pack or even a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel on a jammed finger.

Ice your finger in 15-minute intervals. Take the ice off and wait until the finger goes back to its normal temperature before icing again.

Do not ice a jammed finger for more than three 15-minute intervals in one hour.

See If You Can Move Your Jammed Finger

If the finger you jammed does not move easily or the pain gets worse when you move it, you’ll need to see a provider and have an X-ray to check for a ​bone fracture or dislocation.

After the swelling goes down and the pain starts to get better, try to move your finger a bit. If the injury is mild, you will be able to move the finger with little discomfort for a short time.

Tape and Rest a Jammed Finger

If the jammed finger is not broken or dislocated, you can tape it to the finger next to it to keep it from moving. This is called “buddy taping.”

Use medical-grade tape for a jammed finger. You can also place a piece of gauze between the fingers to prevent blisters and moisture while it’s healing.

Your provider might suggest you wear a finger splint to keep the jammed finger lined up with the rest of your fingers. A splint can also help prevent a jammed finger from getting hurt again.

Resting and Healing a Jammed Finger

A jammed finger needs to be kept still to heal, but eventually, you will want to start moving it again to help strengthen it.

Physical therapy exercises can be helpful for a recovering jammed finger. Your primary care provider might be able to refer you to a physical therapist who can make sure your finger has a healthy range of motion, movement, and circulation as it heals, and offer suggestions for your recovery.

If you work with a chiropractor or osteopath, they may also have recommendations for helping your jammed finger get better.

Easing a Jammed Finger Back to Normal

It might take a few days or even weeks for a jammed finger to start feeling back to normal. As soon as you’ve given it a chance to heal—and you know it’s not dislocated or broken—you’ll want to ease back into using it normally.

If you keep avoiding using a jammed finger, it will lose strength. Over time, not using the finger can make it weaker and more likely to get injured.

Summary

A jammed finger is a common injury that’s usually not serious. Icing, resting, and taping a jammed finger is often enough to allow it to heal in a week or two.

However, if you can’t move the finger or it hurts too much to move it, you’ll need an X-ray to make sure it’s not broken or dislocated. While a jammed finger will often get better quickly, a broken finger or joint dislocation can take months to get better.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I know if a jammed finger is broken?

    A jammed finger might be broken or dislocated if you cannot move it or if it hurts too much to move it. The only way to know if you’ve broken or dislocated a jammed finger is to have an X-ray.

  • How long does a jammed finger take to heal?

    A jammed finger can be sore and swollen for a few days or even a week, but icing and taping it so it doesn’t move too much while it heals will help.

3 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.
  1. American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Jammed finger.

  2. Carruthers KH, Skie M, Jain M. Jam injuries of the finger: diagnosis and management of injuries to the interphalangeal joints across multiple sports and levels of experience. Sports Health. 2016;8(5):469-78. doi:10.1177/1941738116658643

  3. Won SH, Lee S, Chung CY, et al. Buddy taping: is it a safe method for treatment of finger and toe injuries?Clin Orthop Surg. 2014;6(1):26-31. doi:10.4055/cios.2014.6.1.26

By Elizabeth Quinn
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.