Bent ring finger backwards
July 18, 2010 6:22 PM   Subscribe

Could my finger be sprained? Fractured?

So, I messed up my finger pretty bad last wednesday, but I'm not sure how messed up it is.
I hurt it tossing around a football with a few friends - the ball was moving in the air really fast, I reached up to catch it and it hit the tips of my fingers, bending my ring finger back the other way.
My finger was in excruciating pain for quite a long time, but I was able to move it around some after a little while, so I know it's not broken. It didn't really swell up until the next day, but the swelling was throughout the entire finger and it was black and blue.
I wrapped it with an ace bandage to keep it still (we were out camping in the middle of nowhere, i didn't have many options). The swelling went down when I had it wrapped up, but when I take it off I can hardly move my finger. Also, when I take it off once a day to bathe or whatever, it swells up slowly with blood and turns blackish blue again. So, i know that it's bleeding on the inside still after a few days, but I'm not sure exactly what that means. It also hasn't made any progress as far as getting better.
I know alot of people are just going to say to go to a doctor, but what can they really do besides bind it (i now have a splint) and maybe give me some meds? I'm just curious if anyone can infer based on the information given what kind of injury this is?
posted by xopaigexo to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
They can X-ray it to look for cracked bones, they can fix it if it's dislocated, they can give you anti-inflammatory meds that will make it feel a whole lot less painful, and they can advise you about the right way to splint it.
posted by flabdablet at 6:28 PM on July 18, 2010

The fact that the injury involved your finger bending the wrong way means that the injury could be at the joint, and I have been told that injuries involving the joint are particularly complicated. I only have experience with toe injuries, but with toes, basically all you can do is immobilize a toe by taping your toes together. When my friend had broken toes involving the joint, though, they actually put a cast on his foot, which is almost unheard of for broken toes. So, if it is a break and a bad enough one, they could put a cast on it.

By the way, I once walked around on a broken toe for eight days, not believing it was really broken. I finally went to the doctor after hearing horror stories of broken toes that healed weirdly with no medical attention, and, well, it turned out to be broken pretty badly. Anyway, a possible joint injury that is still bleeding inside and not healing sounds like something that wants a doctor's attention. They will be able to tell you whether your splint is good enough, provide you with a better immobilizing device if they think you need it, and let you know what kind of time frame to expect for healing.
posted by mandanza at 6:31 PM on July 18, 2010

It may need to be re-set. My husband broke his pinkie and never dealt with it, and now it looks all cockamamie and seems to be getting arthritic (he's in his 50s). A doc can prob. do something to your finger so that it heals properly and you regain full function for the long term.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:32 PM on July 18, 2010

I was able to move it around some after a little while, so I know it's not broken

Old wive's tale. I was convinced my finger wasn't broken because I could move it normally and argued with the ER about getting X-rays. It was not even fractured; it was *broken*.
posted by galadriel at 6:32 PM on July 18, 2010

X-ray would be an alternative solutions.

Prior to that you can actually apply the following.
*2-3 minutes cold compress then followed by warm compress for 3-5 minutes. You can reapply this method every 5 minutes.
*rest your fingers. Avoid activities that might require the use of your ring finger.
*For medication, am sure that anti-inflammatory drugs would give you relief. But you have to seek for doctor's prescription or you can buy this over the counter.
posted by JohnD at 6:44 PM on July 18, 2010

A doctor can set it so that it heals straight, they can repair any tendon or vascular damage and they can give you a proper splint so it heals quicker (you might be wrapping this too tightly imho)
posted by fshgrl at 6:47 PM on July 18, 2010

i've sprained a finger (pretty much exactly like you're talking about and it hurt literally for months). i've also broken my fifth metacarpal, went on my merry way for days until i dropped a remote control, caught it in mid air and experienced sudden, searing pain at which point i knew something was wrong. i "sprained" my ankle playing football (rolled it), couldn't walk without a cane for 4 months, finally went to the doctor to find that not only did i have hairline fractures but i'd also broken several toes at some point recently. i once got hit by a car, got back on my bicycle, and rode to work at which point i noticed one arm was hanging lower than the other. thinking i'd dislocated it, i went to a cheap clinic to have it popped back in... they took one look at me and told me i'd broken my collarbone. shit, i once punctured an ear drum falling on a dried blade of grass, thought nothing of it until that night when i took a shower at which point water got in my ear and it probably hurt more than any of those other injuries. the moral of these stories is 1) i am accident prone and 2) sometimes you just can't tell, so go to to effing doctor already. at the very least maybe you can score some painkillers.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:49 PM on July 18, 2010

I broke my ring finger on my right hand 17 years ago by having it snatched back in the wrong direction. It was broken at the 2nd joint from my hand. No amount of ice or heat or splints will fix something like that. Persistent pain and persistent (apparent) internal bleeding are both very good reasons to go to the doctor already.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:37 PM on July 18, 2010

It was not even fractured; it was *broken*.

Not sure where this concept comes from. Fractured is the same thing as broken.
posted by gramcracker at 7:51 PM on July 18, 2010

It could definitely be broken; when I was a kid, I broke my mom's middle finger that way tossing her a basketball; she can shoot free throws like crazy but she can't catch a pass (sorry, Mom!).
posted by infinitywaltz at 7:57 PM on July 18, 2010

Not sure where this concept comes from. Fractured is the same thing as broken.

I said that badly, but I hoped it was clear. No, the bone was broken entirely across. Not just cracked (which fractured can mean) but two completely different pieces of bone, where there should be one. An ugly, thorough break. At least it wasn't compound.

So the "I can move it, there's no break" is definitely a busted old wive's tale. I could move it entirely normally from the time of the accident until my whole hand swelled up (hand was caught between an immovable object and a pretty fast-moving force).
posted by galadriel at 7:59 PM on July 18, 2010

but what can they really do besides bind it (i now have a splint) and maybe give me some meds?I'm just curious if anyone can infer based on the information given what kind of injury this is?

No, IF that's all that is required. BUT none of us can or would be able to tell you that even if we were all doctors anyway.
I'm probably one of the few people here who would tell you that you don't need to see a doctor, but this honestly sounds like it needs to be seen by someone. Just go, and worry about the $800 bill for x-rays later.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:36 PM on July 18, 2010

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