Jammed Finger Symptoms

Jammed finger symptoms include many different things that you can easily notice, but the key to understanding if you have a jammed finger is knowing the different symptoms and whether those symptoms portend some of the many different issues that can lead to the feeling of a jammed finger.

When you have the initial injury, regardless of how severe the injury is, the first thing you should do right away is get ice on the injury and take some anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin. Reducing the inflammation is key so that you can see exactly what is going on.

The first symptom you will notice is pain. Make sure you notice if the pain is radiating or if it is localized. Also, is the pain on the side of the finger or is it in the middle of the finger – and is the pain on the joint or is it in the middle of a bone? These are all sorts of questions that you need to answer before you consider the next step.

When you are dealing with a sprain, the biggest thing you should notice right away is how stable or unstable the joint is. What you will notice is the joint is unable to do things that are normal, such as holding an item. Your finger will not be able to support the weight, and will cause a fair bit of pain. That is the key with the sprain, your jammed finger’s inability to support its function.

As far as a strain goes, what you will notice is the finger is not able to move the way it should normally move – if anything the finger will not bend. Now, you may be thinking that either way the finger is not moving, and that is usually due to the swelling. That is why it is critical for you to get ice and anti-inflammatories right away – in fact, if you take anti-inflammatories every 4 hours (Aspirin is a great choice) this will greatly reduce the swelling. Once the swelling is reduced you can easily take a look at what is going on with the finger. Take a look at if your finger is bruised and where the bruises are. This will also give you a window as to the severity of the injury as well.

What Does A Jammed Finger Feel Like?

Picture of a jammed thumb - Jammed Finger Symptoms

Photo Credit: Charlie

So, you may wonder what exactly a jammed finger might feel like – especially in light of these particular injuries. Sprains, strains, contusions, and even broken fingers can have lots of similar symptoms and can have many different types of pain. The thing you must understand is that the pain is critical to understanding how severe the injury is. Generally, jammed fingers occur often as sports injuries but there are some other ways that your finger can get jammed – including something as simple as getting your finger caught in a car door.

As for the pain – wow – it can be quite awful. Some of what you will feel is as simple as having a finger that throbs and the pain will be quite acute and the area hurt will be tender. The swelling will feel awful, it will be as if your finger is jammed into a vise, and ultimately for many the pain can be unbearable, but the reality is a jammed finger is one of the less painful joint injuries compared to those in the knee, ankle, elbow, shoulder and the back – yes, your back is a joint as all the vertebrae articulate.

When it comes to the tenderness, the reality is the area will always be tender until the injury heals. Of course, the tenderness will subside as the injury gets closer to healing, but in the meantime you are going to want to do pain management. This does not mean that you need opioid painkillers, instead Aspirin will help with the pain and the reason you will be in pain comes simply from the fact that the swelling puts pressure on the nerves which in turn cause the pain.

When dealing with the swelling or the joint instability, it feels as if your finger is extremely fat and hard to move. This is the body’s response to trauma. It works hard to repair itself but at the same time you are in a position where as it begins to adapt you are not feeling well. This is why it is important to do the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method when you initially jam your finger, it will allow you to give your body the support it needs to effectively heal the finger. The pain itself can be sharp or dull, but ultimately it varies depending on the injury and the severity.

Read more about the treatment of a jammed finger.

Jammed Finger vs. Broken Finger

There are several things that are different when diagnosing a jammed finger versus a broken finger. The first is the methodology used to assess the state of the injured finger. Generally, the first move is to do an x-ray. The x-ray will tell you if you have a regular fracture, clean break, stress fracture, or worst of all a compression fracture. If you have a jammed finger, most likely you have a sprain or a strain, and because these are soft tissue injuries, they do not show up on the x-ray.

Even if you have a broken finger, however, one thing that will happen depending on the severity of your injury will be for your hand to have an MRI or even a CAT scan. With injuries like clean breaks or compression fractures, many times surgery is required. In those cases, the doctors need to know exactly what they need to repair. With a jammed finger, the CAT Scan and the MRI assess the grade of the strain or sprain, and also can help the doctor figure out how to mend your finger.

When you have a broken finger, it is also more visible in a lot of ways, the finger will dangle unnaturally and it will be incredibly painful. With a sprain or a strain you may have some use of the finger, even in the most severe of circumstances, but when it comes to a broken finger, you will not have any use of it unless the fracture is something small like a stress fracture.


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