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When doctors discuss finger sprain, they are referring to any injury of the finger that results in stretched or partially torn ligaments. These injuries are certainly painful to any individuals that experience them, and they need to be given proper care so healing can begin. Without getting a look inside the finger, it isn’t always possible to tell what degree of ligament damage has occurred. Thus, a person with a suspected finger sprain should always get confirmed diagnosis from a doctor, and appropriate treatment guidelines.
Like burns, sprains are often classed in degrees. The mildest are first degree sprains, but there are also more moderate second degree sprains, and very serious third degree sprains. Type of sprain tends to indicate an expected range in healing time. A mild sprain might from a few weeks to about a month to heal, while severe sprains might require three months or more in healing time.
Typically, when people get a finger sprain, it will at first be extremely uncomfortable and may swell. Bruising can occur and the finger may feel painful to the touch. Some people have reduced range of motion or feel as though moving the finger is very uncomfortable. While waiting to get the injured person to a doctor, keeping the arm elevated, and icing the finger is useful.
If a doctor is not immediately available it may be prudent to create a splint to immobilize the finger sprain. This may be done with a buddy or next-door finger, by taping the two fingers together. Don’t use this method if it appears other injury is present, such as dislocation of one of the finger joints.
Once a person has arrived at a doctor’s office or other medical facility, the medical team will determine how to better diagnose the finger sprain. X-rays might be required or what appears to be a mild sprain might simply be inspected and splinted. Many physicians ask people with milder sprains to check back in before they stop wearing the splint, particularly if they participate in activities that have a high rate of finger sprain cases, such as many sports.
In rare circumstances, when a third degree finger sprain is present, doctors may need to do more. Immobilization is one option, but another is surgery to repair excess ligament tearing that might not properly heal otherwise. After people undergo such surgery they could require some physical therapy before they get the all clear to return to certain activities.