When you suffer a jammed finger the initial impulse is to try and do everything and anything with the finger in a valiant – but ultimately foolhardy – attempt to keep calm and carry on. Unfortunately, when you do this you could be adding to the time the finger will require to heal instead of just letting nature take its course.
Here is what you need to know about any jammed finger – whether it is a sprain or strain, you are looking at about two to four weeks for healing in case of a minor jam and about four to eight weeks for a major injury, and in that case what you need to do is follow the doctor’s orders.
For many doctors, these orders are not to use the finger for that time, so that means you have to find a new way to do things for a while. That is certainly not too bad of an inconvenience, however when you are in the middle of healing from a jammed finger, those two to eight weeks can feel like a lifetime. However, it is very important to let the time go by.
Of course, the time frame can be adjusted based on the different factors going into how the finger is healing. For instance, if you have a jammed finger that is a result of a grade III sprain, then chances are your healing time will be closer to 12 weeks, and you may even have to do surgery, which could delay the healing and then have to do physical therapy.
Regardless of where you are on the healing scale, depending on different considerations, your time table for healing from a jammed finger could be more or less. For example, if you have diabetes it will take longer than someone without, and if you are younger the body bounces back quicker.
Does A Jammed Finger Heal On Its Own?
Often, when it comes to a jammed finger, the finger heals on its own because the injury itself is not too serious, but there is a lot more to it than that.
When we think about the different levels of injury – grades I, II, and III each ends up going through a natural healing process. The reality is despite whatever injury your jammed finger is diagnosed as, if you decide not to do anything and just let things go, the finger will eventually heal.
Now, it could heal to a completely non-functional way or you could end up with a finger working just as well as before the injury. But, as we’ve established, this is a serious roll of the dice and should not be undertaken without considering the option of a trained medical professional.
The healing process for a jammed finger has to do with the body’s ability to repair damaged tissue. The main way the body heals damaged tissue is to produce scar tissue.
There are many properties that scar tissue has, but the key feature is that scar tissue is tough, thick tissue that is stronger than the tissue that was damaged. It is designed to heal the damaged tissue by creating a bridge of new tissue between the damaged ends. This is something that allows you to gain back, if nothing else, partial movement.
The way that the different areas in a sprain or strain are healed surgically come from repairing the damage to the tendons and ligaments. Usually this is through using tendon or ligament tissue that is thicker from another part of the body. Scar tissue will form, and when it does the job of the scar tissue is to secure and attach the repair in place and allow it to function.
The 4 to 8 weeks that soft tissue injuries usually take to heal comes from these injuries having to get rid of swelling and damage to tissue along with the process taking place. The better physical shape you are in, the easier it is for you to heal.
Think of it this way, if you are in good shape then your heart is working well, which means it is pumping oxygen rich blood to your body. That ensures your injuries will heal better. The better your injury heals, the more movement in the joint that you will get back and ultimately that is the key to recovery.
The body itself will heal the jammed finger, but there may be times when you need different modalities in place to facilitate that healing. For example, if you just let a severe sprain heal on its own then it could be a very long time before you can use the finger.
When To See A Doctor For A Jammed Finger?
Seeing a doctor concerning your jammed finger is something you should think about as soon as your finger gets jammed, and there are many reasons for that. The first among these reasons is wanting to be sure that your finger is not seriously injured and if it is to start the best course of action for treating this finger as soon as possible. There are some signs to look for though when seeing a doctor is no longer a choice but is a matter of something needing to be done.
The first of these issues is that you notice your finger is black and blue and not moving correctly. This could be a very serious tendon or ligament issue. If there is a lot of swelling going along with the lack of movement and bruising, then it is imperative to get to a doctor right away, or if it is non-office hours, getting to an emergency room. There is a good chance your finger could be seriously injured, and if that is the case it needs immediate care – you can’t wait around for your doctor to arrive at the office. If you do, you could waste valuable time and impair the healing of your finger.
Other reasons why you should see a doctor regarding the jammed finger is if the finger does not seem to be very injured, but also does not seem to be healing. This could mean the injury is more severe than you think and the doctor needs to make sure that you do not have any other underlying issues beyond the jammed finger causing it not to heal – or if the injury to the finger is in fact quite severe.
Another time to see a doctor is if you have an accident that seems to be a serious one, like your finger getting slammed in a car door. The reason is this could be a compression fracture – not just a jammed finger. If that’s the case you could be dealing with very serious injuries and in those cases untreated injuries could lead to the loss of the finger.
Seeing a doctor is critical to knowing exactly what you are dealing with concerning jammed fingers, and it is always better to be very cautious than to just hope it will all get better.