How to Treat a Broken Finger Tip

Article featured on American Society for Hand Surgery

The finger tip is one of the most commonly injured areas of the upper extremity because we use our finger tips in so many daily activities. Your finger tip can be injured in a variety of different ways, including being crushed by a door, hit with a hammer, getting stuck under a heavy object, or cut with a knife.

While some finger tip injuries may be minor, others can be more severe. You can the bone, nail bed, tendons or even the nerve endings, which allow you to have sensation in the finger tips. Here’s how to treat a finger tip injury, depending on the severity:

  • Dressing (a gauze wrapping or tape): Dressings can treat more minor finger tip injuries, such as when just the skin is affected or if there is a small amount of bone exposed.
  • Splints or metal pins: These can be used if you’re suffering from a broken finger tip. The metal pins will hold the bone fragments in the proper position.
  • Drainage: If blood is collecting under your nail, your hand specialist may make a small hole in the nail to drain it.
  • Surgery or amputation: These treatment options are reserved for more severe nail bed injuries.

Regardless of which treatment you receive, it’s important to remember that your finger tip may never look or feel the same after an injury, especially a severe one.

Your treatment plan will vary based on your specific circumstances. Visit a hand specialist as soon as you’ve injured your finger tip to determine the best plan. The sooner you receive treatment, the better. Delaying treatment may result in loss of feeling in your finger tip.


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

A Surgeon’s Guide to Recovering From Hand Surgery

Article Featured on Ark Surgery Hospital

Hand surgery recovery is a delicate and often frustrating process. Be sure to follow all of your surgeon’s instruction to ensure you regain your full range of motion.

Whatever the reason for your hand surgery, you can prepare yourself by planning a hand surgery recovery timeline with the help of your orthopedic surgeon and following these helpful guidelines:

Tips for Hand Surgery Recovery

All hand surgery recovery periods last at least several weeks— and sometimes months—before you can return to your everyday activities. You can make several minor lifestyle modifications to help keep you comfortable while you are recovering.

Read more

Will I Need Surgery on My Broken Or Fractured Finger?

Although the bones in the hand are small, a broken (fractured) finger is not a minor injury. The bones in a normal hand line up precisely. They let you perform many specialized functions, such as grasping a pen or manipulating small objects in your palm. When you fracture a finger bone, it can cause your whole hand to be out of alignment. Without treatment, your broken finger might stay stiff and painful.

Anatomy

Your hand consists of 27 bones: eight bones in your wrist (carpals), five bones in the palm of your hand (metacarpals), and 14 bones in your fingers (phalanges). Fractures of the metacarpal bone that leads to the little finger account for about one-third of all hand fractures in adults.

Cause

Generally, a fractured finger occurs as the result of an injury to the hand. You can fracture a finger when you slam your fingers in a door, when you put out your hand to break a fall, or when your finger jams while trying to catch a ball. Carelessness when working with power saws, drills, and other tools can result in a fractured finger.

Symptoms

  • Swelling of the fracture site
  • Tenderness at the fracture site
  • Bruising at the fracture site
  • Inability to move the injured finger in completely
  • Deformity of the injured finger

Doctor Examination

If you think you fractured your finger, immediately tell your doctor exactly what happened and when it happened. Your doctor must determine not only which bone you fractured, but also how the bone broke. Bones can break in several ways: straight across the bone, in a spiral, into several pieces, or shatter completely.

Your doctor may want to see how your fingers line up when you extend your hand or make a fist. Does any finger overlap its neighbor? Does the injured finger angle in the wrong direction? Does the injured finger look too short? Your doctor may x-ray both of your hands to compare the injured finger to the uninjured finger on your other hand.

Treatment

Nonsurgical Treatment

Your doctor will put your broken bone back into place, usually without surgery. You will get a splint or cast to hold your finger straight and protect it from further injury while it heals. Sometimes your doctor may splint the fingers next to the fractured one to provide additional support. Your doctor will tell you how long to wear the splint. Usually a splint on a fractured finger is worn for about 3 weeks. You may need more x-rays over this time so that your doctor can monitor the progress of your finger as it heals.

Surgical Treatment

Depending on the type and severity of the fracture, you may need surgery to put the bones into alignment. Small devices, such as pins, screws, or wire, will be used to hold your fractured bones together.

Rehabilitation

You may begin using your hand again as soon as your doctor determines it is okay to move your finger. Doing simple rehabilitation exercises each day will help reduce the finger’s stiffness and swelling. You may be required to see a physical therapist to assist you in these exercises.


Orthopedic Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is located in Downtown Portland Oregon. Dr. Dominic Patillo, one of our Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeons, specializes in hand surgery. His practice focuses on the treatment of both simple and complex hand and upper extremity conditions as well as general orthopaedic trauma. He is experienced with modern microsurgical techniques including nerve and vessel reconstruction.

Common problems treated include:

  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • tennis elbow
  • wrist pain
  • sports injuries of the hand and wrist
  • fractures of the hand, wrist, and forearm
  • trigger finger

Other problems treated can include arthritis, nerve and tendon injuries, and congenital limb differences (birth defects).

If you have pain in your fingers, hand, wrist or arm, or if you have other upper-extremity related concerns, please consult our hand specialist Dr. Dominic Patillo for a consultation.