Dodge Safe #3: Finger Sprains and Strains

Posted on March 22, 2013 at 8:22 pm |

Can’t quite put my finger on it – Finger Sprains and Strains

“I jammed my finger trying to catch a ball” or “The ball hit my hand and bent my thumb backwards”, are common sentences I’ve heard from many dodgeball players. I have even witnessed a grown man close to tears after spraining his thumb attempting to catch a dodgeball. True story.

Definition of a sprained finger.

A sprained finger is characterized by damage or tearing to the connective tissue(s) found within the injured finger. Damage can happen to the ligaments, tendons, cartilage and/or joint capsule. There are different grades to a sprain that determine the severity of the damage (Anderson et al., 2004):

Grade I slight stretching of the ligament with little or no tearing of the fibers
Grade II partial tearing of the fibers
Grade III complete tearing of the ligament


What a Grade II sprain looks like:  dodge-safe-03-grade-ii-sprain
Picture from:

Any difference between a jammed or hyperextended finger?

Jamming or hyperextending refers to the mechanism of injury, meaning how you sprained your finger. Jamming a finger may mean that a dodgeball hit the tip of your finger creating a compressive force whereas hyperextending a finger suggests that a dodgeball hit your finger and bent it backwards.

Is my finger broken or fractured?

The best way to determine if you have a broken or fractured finger is to get an x-ray. You will need to talk to your family doctor or a doctor at a walk-in clinic to get a referral for an x-ray.

Treatment of finger sprains.

The first 2-3 days are important in reducing swelling and inflammation. This involves the treatment method of R.I.C.E., which consists of resting from aggravating activities (ie. any activity that will cause pain) and icing regularly. There are lots of suggestions on how frequently ice should be applied but during the initial 2-3 days, you can’t go wrong with applying it 6-8 times a day for 15-20 minutes (Harmon, 2013). Make sure the ice is not too cold though as it is possible to get frostbite from icing!!! The resting and icing component of R.I.C.E. are probably the two most important things you can do for treatment as it may be difficult to apply compression and elevation to your finger.

How long will it take before it gets better?

Depending on the severity of injury, the time for recovery from a finger sprain can be 2-6 weeks. After a month or so, if the injury continues to be painful and continues to affect your daily function (eg. can’t make a fist or can’t type properly), it would be best to see a doctor or a physiotherapist.

How do I tape my fingers to prevent further injuries?

Check out Dodge Safe #4!


Anderson, M.K., Hall, S.J., & Martin, M. (2004). Foundations of Athletic Training: Prevention, Assessment, and Management. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Harmon, A. (2013). Ice versus heat: Treating your injury properly. Retrieved from

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