A jarred finger is a very common injury in many sports like basketball, netball and football. It often affects the middle knuckle joint, when the finger tip is compressed or moved too far in a certain direction when coming into contact with a ball. 

It can be shrugged off as a small joint sprain as it is such a common complaint, however the injury can also cause a dislocation or fracture of the finger. This is why the first step to managing your jarred finger, is to ensure it is actually, a jarred finger!

jarred finger

What is a jarred finger?

A jarred finger is a joint sprain that happens when the ligaments that hold a joint together are torn. This can cause pain, swelling, bruising and restriction. A mild joint sprain will typically take about two weeks to heal, however more severe sprains can take longer. 


What is a joint dislocation?

A joint dislocation is when there has been a tear in the ligament/s and the actual joint has become unstable and moved position. This injury presents with similar symptoms as a sprain, however you may notice some deformity to the joint. The management of a dislocation will involve referral to a medical doctor or hospital to reposition and immobilise the joint so that it can heal properly.


What is a fracture? jarred finger, basketball

A fracture happens when pressure causes your bone to break. This will usually cause
a more severe reaction and intense pain. If the fracture has broken the outer layer of bone, it might be very painful to apply ice to the injury – which may give you an indication if there is indeed a fracture! Fracture of a finger may involve immobilisation using a splint, and will usually take around 6 weeks to heal, however this timeframe can vary greatly from bone to bone and person to person.

So, what do you do for a jarred finger?!


  1. Apply ice to the injured finger for 10-15 minutes every 2-3 hours. Make sure to wrap the ice in a towel icebefore applying to your skin.
  2. Buddy taping! This is when you tape your finger to the one next to it. This not only helps support your finger, it also avoids accidentally knocking it and causing more pain!buddy taping
  3. Gently bend your finger backwards and forwards as far as comfortable and pain free to keep it moving
  4. Once the swelling and bruising has died down, start using a heat pack instead of ice to get the blood flow increasing! heat pack
  5. Treatment! Hands-on therapy by a healthcare professional can help stimulate blood flow to the finger, hand, arm etc to help with healing and help you return to your sport sooner rather than later!
  6. Last but not least is strengthening work. Once your pain has improved it is so important to do your rehab even for a tinysqueeze ball joint in your finger as this can avoid long term problems. One of my favourite exercises for hand strength is rolling up a pair of thick socks and gently squeezing them. Squeeze and relax, squeeze and relax, 10-15 times, once a day. Make sure you are resting your forearm on a table so that your hand is nice and supported.


While all of these management strategies can really help….

It is still highly recommended to be examined and diagnosed by a healthcare professional. Your hands are a very important body part, and ruling out more serious injuries will ensure you are confident when returning to the activities you love doing! 


Dr. Megan Brooks (Total Balance Healthcare)

If you would like to know more please give us a call on 03 9773 8085!




You may also like

Looking to Make an Appointment or Shop Online?

Booking Online is the most convenient way to lock in the clinician & time you want. We also have an Online Store with an amazing range of Osteo & Naturopathy Products.