Woman experiencing pain from a dislocated finger

First aid for a dislocated finger: immediate steps to take.

A dislocated finger can happen to anyone, whether you're catching a ball, working around the house or taking a tumble. This common yet painful injury requires prompt attention to prevent further damage and ensure a swift recovery.

Here's what you need to know about identifying, treating and understanding the importance of proper care for a dislocated finger at your local CityMD.

What does a dislocated finger look like?

Recognizing a dislocated finger is the first step to effective treatment. A dislocation occurs when the bones of a finger move (or are forced) out of their normal alignment.

Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Visible Deformity: The finger may look bent or oddly positioned.
  • Swelling and Bruising: The affected area will likely swell immediately and may bruise.
  • Pain and Tenderness: Expect significant pain at the site of the dislocation, which might also feel tender to the touch.
  • Limited Mobility: You may find moving the dislocated finger joint difficult or impossible.

Knowing these signs can help you act swiftly and effectively if you suspect a dislocation.


What happens if you leave a dislocated finger untreated?

Ignoring a dislocated finger and hoping it will "work itself out" can lead to several complications, including:

  • Permanent deformity: Without proper treatment, the finger may heal in an incorrect position, leading to lasting deformity.
  • Decreased mobility: Scar tissue can develop, potentially limiting the finger's range of motion and affecting hand function.
  • Arthritis: Untreated dislocations can increase the risk of developing arthritis in the affected joint, leading to chronic pain and stiffness.
  • Nerve or blood vessel damage: Delaying treatment can damage the nerves or blood vessels around the dislocated joint.

These potential outcomes underscore the importance of seeking immediate medical attention for a dislocated finger.


Treating a dislocated finger.

If you suspect a dislocated finger, follow these steps to minimize pain and prevent further injury before you can get medical help:

  1. Do not attempt to reposition the finger: Trying to "pop" the finger back into place can cause more harm.
  2. Immobilize the finger: To keep the dislocated finger stable, use a splint or tape it to an adjacent finger.
  3. Apply ice: Wrap ice in a cloth and apply it to the injured finger to reduce swelling and pain. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
  4. Elevate: Keep the injured hand raised above heart level to decrease swelling.
  5. Seek medical attention: Visit an urgent care facility like CityMD as soon as possible. An X-ray will be used to assess the injury and make sure there is no fracture. Then, if needed, a healthcare provider can safely reposition the finger, assess for additional injuries and recommend further treatment or follow-up care.


Treatment options for a dislocated finger.

At CityMD, the treatment for a dislocated finger may include:

  • Reduction: A physician will carefully realign the finger bones to their proper position.
  • Immobilization: After reduction, the finger may need to be splinted or casted to heal correctly.
  • Medication: Pain relief and, in some cases, a tetanus shot if you experience broken skin.
  • Physical therapy: After healing, physical therapy exercises can help restore strength and flexibility to the finger.



A dislocated finger is a severe injury requiring immediate medical care to prevent long-term issues. Knowing how to recognize and respond to a dislocation allows you to take swift action to ensure the best possible outcome.

At CityMD, we're here to provide the care and support you need to recover from a dislocated finger, with a wide range of treatment options and expert advice for your healing journey.

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Visit any CityMD urgent care location in your community today for an evaluation with one of our expert providers.