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Finger Sprain


A finger sprain happens when ligaments in your finger or thumb are stretched or torn. Ligaments are the tough tissues that connect bones. Ligaments allow your hands to grasp and pinch.


Care for your finger:

  • Ice your finger: Ice your finger to help decrease pain and swelling. Put crushed ice in a plastic bag and cover it with a towel. Put the ice on your injured finger or thumb every hour for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. You may need to ice the area at least 4 to 8 times each day. Ice your finger for as many days as directed.

  • Elevate your finger: Keep your injured finger raised above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help reduce swelling. You can elevate your hand by resting it on a pillow.

  • Compress your finger: Compression (tight hold) helps support your finger or thumb as it heals. Your injured finger may be taped to the finger beside it. Severe sprains may be treated with a splint. Ask how long you must wear the splint or tape, and how to apply them.


  • Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is too bad before taking your medicine.

  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicines are not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you take vitamins, herbs, or any other medicines. Keep a written list of your medicines. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits.

Exercise your finger:

You may be given gentle exercises to begin in a few days. Exercises can help decrease stiffness in your finger or thumb. Exercises also help decrease pain and swelling and improve the movement of your finger or thumb. Check with your primary healthcare provider before you return to your normal activities or sports.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:

Write down any questions you may have to ask at your follow-up visits.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You have new or increased swelling or pain in your finger.

  • You have new or increased stiffness when you move your injured finger.

  • You have questions or concerns about your injury or treatment.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • The skin on your injured finger looks bluish or pale (less color than normal).

  • You have new weakness or numbness in your finger or thumb. It may tingle or burn.

  • You have a splint that you cannot adjust and it feels too tight.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.