Healing a broken finger can take as long as six to eight weeks, depending on the severity of the break. The bones of the fingers are called the phalanges and there are three bones in each finger - the exception being the thumb, which only has two. When a finger bone breaks, it usually disrupts the soft tissue surrounding it, like muscle and tendon, making setting the finger bones back in alignment more difficult.
Diagnosing a Broken Finger
Because the hands absorb much of the impact of a fall, it's most common to break a finger that way. Besides pain in the area, a broken finger can also manifest with swelling, numbness, bruising and bleeding. A severe break will usually result in a disfigured finger. Someone who has a broken finger should get to a doctor quickly, as a finger that is not treated correctly can lead to problems down the road.
Treating a Broken Finger
A doctor will perform an x-ray on the finger to ensure he is getting a clear picture of the break. There are several different kinds of fractures, such as hairline or spiral. For finger breaks, the doctor will set the patient up in a finger splint, a stiff device that cradles the broken finger along with one other finger to give it support.
Healing a Broken Finger
For the first several days, the patient should keep ice on the finger for about 15 minutes every hour. Never let ice touch the skin directly; instead use a thin towel in between the ice and the skin. Someone with a broken finger should keep it elevated above the level of the heart, especially for the first week, as much as possible. This will help keep the swelling down. Pain relievers can be taken to manage the pain and over-the-counter kinds like ibuprofen are fine. For severe pain, the doctor may prescribe a stronger dose.
Many broken finger injuries will heal without further complications. However, patients that notice increased swelling and redness may have an infection. If the finger is numb or tingling or turns blue, that also requires a return visit to the doctor. Poor circulation in the finger can result in the finger turning white or the finger feeling colder than other fingers.
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