A jammed finger is a common issue among people who are actively involved in sports. It generally refers to a sprain or injury to one of the three joints in a finger. It usually occurs from an impact injury. Your toes also can become jammed.
Some signs of a jammed finger include pain, stiffness, loss of range of motion, swelling, inflammation and tenderness to touch.
Do not dismiss symptoms of a jammed finger. If not treated timely, the injury can be very painful and lead to chronic ailments.
Minor cases of finger injury can be treated at home. It may take a few weeks for the finger to heal completely.
This type of finger injury heals relatively quickly, if no fracture has occurred. If there is a fracture, the pain will be unbearable and the healing process will take longer.
Hence, it is recommended to get X-rays to rule out a finger fracture. Also, if symptoms persist and seem more severe, see a physician.
Here are the top 10 ways to treat a jammed finger.
1. Ice Therapy
As soon as you suffer a jammed finger injury, applying ice is a must. Ice reduces the body’s inflammatory response and helps ease pain and swelling to a considerable extent.
- Wrap a few ice cubes in a thin towel.
- Apply this pack to the injured finger for 10 minutes.
- Allow the finger to return to normal temperature, then reapply an ice pack.
- Repeat the procedure 2 or 3 more times.
- Use ice packs 4 or 5 times throughout the day for the first couple of days.
Instead of ice, you can use a bag of frozen vegetables. While using ice therapy, you need to rest the affected finger to ensure quick healing.
Note: Never apply ice directly on your skin. Also, people who have vascular disease, diabetes or decreased sensation should talk with their doctor before applying ice.
2. Splint the Finger
Keep the affected finger splinted or immobilized until the pain is completely gone. A splint will keep the affected finger straight and prevent movement while it heals.
The splint should not be too tight, which can inhibit blood circulation and lead to numbness or tingling sensations.
If wearing a splint is uncomfortable, you may remove it each day for some time, but be sure not to bend your finger too much.
You may need to wear the splint for 1 to 4 weeks, depending upon the severity of the injury and how quickly the finger heals.
For a minor jammed finger, you can even tape the affected finger to an adjacent finger and be sure to restrict usage and allow it to rest.
3. Keep the Finger Elevated
When suffering from a jammed finger, keep the affected finger elevated above chest level. This will increase venous return of blood to the systemic circulation, which in turn reduces discomforts like swelling, inflammation and pain.
Elevation also facilitates elimination of waste products and speeds up the healing process.
Elevation is one of the elements of ‘RICE’, a mnemonic for 4 elements used to treat soft tissue injuries. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
While sleeping or sitting, keep a few pillows by your side on which to rest and elevate your hand.
4. Rest the Finger
To ensure quick healing, you need to allow the injured finger to rest. Proper rest is a key component for repairing soft tissue damage.
Continual strain will lead to increased inflammation, pain and possible further injury. Plus, without rest, the healing time will gradually increase.
Rest the injured finger as much as possible and avoid any jerky, painful movements. Any kind of strenuous activity will only aggravate the injury.
You can continue exercising the rest of your body and muscles to prevent deconditioning.
5. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt consists of magnesium and sulfate that work together to reduce inflammation and pain. It is even effective at reducing swelling, one of the biggest discomforts associated with a jammed finger.
You can start using Epsom salt 48 hours after the injury has occured. Follow either of these remedies once each day to relax your painful finger:
- Mix 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt in 1 cup of hot water. Dip the injured finger in this warm solution for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Another option is to mix 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt in warm olive or coconut oil. Use it to massage your finger for 10 minutes, then soak it in warm water for another 10 minutes.
Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory agent that can help reduce pain and swelling. Plus, a compound known as curcumin in turmeric helps improve blood flow throughout your body.
Proper blood circulation is important for the healing process.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder with 2 teaspoons of melted coconut oil to make a thick paste. Apply this paste over the affected finger. Cover it with a bandage and leave it on for a couple of hours before rinsing it off with lukewarm water. Repeat 2 or 3 times a day.
- Also, heat ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of milk for 5 to 10 minutes. Drink this before going to bed for about a week to help reduce pain and enjoy proper sleep.
7. Olive Oil
Olive oil can also be used to relieve pain in a jammed finger. Olive oil contains a compound that helps prevent pro-inflammatory enzymes, thus reducing inflammation and pain. It also keeps the skin moisturized to promote healing.
Massaging the affected finger with olive oil helps improve blood circulation and reduces stiffness, which in turn promotes healing.
- Rub some warm olive oil on the affected finger. Use gentle yet firm strokes to massage the finger for about 5 minutes. Do this 2 or 3 times daily as needed.
- Alternatively, mix a few drops of camphor oil or lavender essential oil in 1 to 2 tablespoons of warm olive oil. Use it to massage the affected finger once or twice a day.
Note: If massage makes the pain worse, stop doing it and consult a doctor.
Ginger is one of the best natural painkillers to reduce the discomforts associated with a jammed finger. It contains a compound called gingerol that has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
In fact, gingerol’s effect is similar to aspirin or ibuprofen. Ginger also helps block COX-2, a chemical in the body that causes pain.
Drink homemade ginger tea 2 or 3 times daily for a couple of weeks to aid the healing process and expedite recovery. To make the tea:
- Put 1 tablespoon of ginger slices in 2 cups of water.
- Boil and then simmer the water for 10 minutes.
- Strain, add a little honey and drink it while it is still warm.
9. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil, a potent anti-inflammatory agent, can relieve pain and inflammation in the injured finger. In addition, its antiseptic properties will help prevent infection.
- Add 5 drops of tea tree essential oil to 1 tablespoon of any carrier oil of your choice.
- Apply this oil on the affected area and gently massage for 5 minutes. Make sure the massage does not aggravate the pain.
- Apply a hot compress for 10 minutes to improve circulation and reduce swelling.
- Repeat this remedy 2 or 3 times daily until the pain and swelling is gone completely.
10. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera also helps in relieving inflammation associated with a jammed finger due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties.
It is effective in reducing the stiffness and soreness in the joints of your finger. The vitamins and amino acids in it also help repair damaged skin.
- Cut open an aloe vera leaf, extract the gel and apply it on the injured finger. Massage gently to increase blood circulation, then allow it to dry before wiping it off with a wet tissue. Repeat once or twice daily until you see improvement.
- Also, drink a cup of aloe vera juice twice daily for a couple of weeks to notice reduction in inflammation and pain.
- For the first week following injury, refrain from very strenuous activity.
- After a few days, slowly try to move the finger in order to restore its range of motion.
- Use over-the-counter arnica or capsaicin creams as needed to alleviate pain and swelling.
- Take fish oil supplements, after consulting your doctor. Fish oil is a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids that help lubricate the joints and restore damaged nerve tissue.
- Take bromelain supplements, after consulting your doctor. Bromelain, an enzyme, stimulates the body to produce natural compounds that relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- If symptoms persist or worsen, see an orthopedic physician.