Symptoms and Signs of Finger Sprain

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 4/28/2022

Doctor's Notes on Finger Sprain

Many physicians consider a finger sprain to be an injury to ligaments (or to tendons); they are graded 1-3, (grade 1 ligament fibers are stretched, grade 2 fibers are partially torn, and a grade 3 ligament is completely torn). Signs and symptoms of a finger sprain include

  • localized pain and swelling,
  • tenderness,
  • warmth, and
  • redness.

Some people may have a popping, clicking, grinding, decreased range of motion, and/or pain with movement. Some patients will have a deformity that may occur; many physicians will X-ray the finger. Numbness and tingling may be present if a nerve injury also happens.

The cause of almost all finger (and thumb) sprains is trauma to the digit where it is forced to move side to side (a jammed finger). Falls and sports injuries (volleyball, basketball, skiing [skier's thumb], and others) are the risk factors for digit injuries.

What Are the Treatments for a Finger Sprain?

In general, the treatment for finger sprains (and other sprains) uses the RICE treatment as follows:

  • Rest: Stop any exercise or activities and do not put any weight or pressure on the finger.
  • Ice: Apply an ice pack (or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel) to the finger for up to 20 minutes every 2-3 hours.
  • Compression: Wrap a bandage around the injury to support it.
  • Elevate: Keep it raised above the heart as much as possible.

Additional treatments include the following:

  • Medications: Take over-the-counter medications (NSAIDs) or prescription (like codeine) if needed.
  • Splint for support and rest.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.