How do I Treat a Sprained Finger?

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers
Applying an ice pack to a sprained finger should immediately reduce both swelling and pain.
Applying an ice pack to a sprained finger should immediately reduce both swelling and pain.

If you have sprained your finger, the first thing you should do is try to relieve the pain with ice and medication that you likely already have at home. Once the pain has been lessened, you should either tape it to an uninjured finger next to it, or put it in a splint. Keep it immobilized when participating in sports or other activities during which it could be re-injured, and position your hand above your heart when possible to help the healing process along.

A person wearing a finger splint.
A person wearing a finger splint.

The first thing on your mind after getting a sprained finger is likely reducing the pain, which can be done by applying ice to the area. This should immediately reduce both the swelling and tenderness. Taking an anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen can also reduce swelling and pain, while acetaminophen does not reduce swelling, but does decrease both pain and a fever. If none of these pain relievers appear to work, ask a medical professional for stronger medication to treat severe pain, and also to make sure that your finger is not broken.

A man with a sprained finger.
A man with a sprained finger.

It is important to protect your finger from further injury, which can be done by placing a protective layer over it. You can purchase a splint from the drugstore, or get one from a healthcare professional, which will keep you from bending the finger or accidentally using it while it heals. If you do not have fast access to a splint, you can tape the injured finger to an uninjured one next to it so that it stays straight and goes unused during the recovery period. Leave the splint or tape on for about a week, as less time will not usually allow it to heal completely, while a longer amount of time can result in stiff, weakened hand ligaments.

Taking an anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen, can reduce the swelling and pain of a sprained finger.
Taking an anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen, can reduce the swelling and pain of a sprained finger.

While you should take the splint or tape off after about a week in most cases, many medical professionals advise that you keep it on when it has a particularly high chance of being injured once again, such as during sports. Even a slight bump or finger jam that might not hurt much when your fingers are uninjured can hurt quite a bit when an already sprained finger is still healing. In fact, consider using a splint with a metal exterior during any activities, as this should protect it the most. When possible, you should also try to keep the finger elevated above heart level so that the inflammation can decrease over time.

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Discussion Comments

anon284672

Go to the doctor if it's been a week and if it's been not that long, try some ben-gay and try not to move it and don't touch it or fiddle with your finger!

anon140263

i bent my pinky finger back when i fell of my bike and it is swollen. my dad thinks i have sprained it so we have taped it together with my other finger next to it for support. it's been a few days and my finger is still swollen. what should i do?

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    • Applying an ice pack to a sprained finger should immediately reduce both swelling and pain.
      Applying an ice pack to a sprained finger should immediately reduce both swelling and pain.
    • A person wearing a finger splint.
      A person wearing a finger splint.
    • A man with a sprained finger.
      A man with a sprained finger.
    • Taking an anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen, can reduce the swelling and pain of a sprained finger.
      Taking an anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen, can reduce the swelling and pain of a sprained finger.
    • When a person has a sprained finger, reducing the associated pain becomes a priority.
      When a person has a sprained finger, reducing the associated pain becomes a priority.