Preventing and Treating a Jammed Finger

Mary Margaret “Meg” Penrose, professor of law at Texas A&M University School of Law, has a long history with sports. Coming from an athletic family who has played or coached everything from football to gymnastics, she earned a scholarship as a college athlete. Mary Margaret Penrose spent several years playing basketball and later spent some time coaching the sport.

The most common type of hand injury in basketball, a jammed finger occurs when the ball hits the tip of a player’s finger rather than their palm. The injury can be avoided by learning and practicing proper catching techniques. Jammed fingers normally cause pain and swelling around one of the finger joints. In most cases, a simple jammed finger will heal on its own. However, if the finger looks crooked and has an immense amount of pain, a doctor should be seen to make sure a serious injury has not occurred.

Assuming the finger has just been jammed, the best treatment is the RICE method. This method of healing involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Ice and elevation both help reduce swelling and may make the finger easier to move after a time. After a few days, players can slowly bend the finger to loosen it up. As players get back into the game, it is wise to buddy wrap the jammed finger to its neighbor. This provides extra stability and lets it keep healing while playing.