Dislocated Fingers – Prehospital Treatment

I see them all the time in the ER, and they can cause a whole lot of pain. That's not to mention the horror of seeing your finger take a left turn from your other ones. When an injury occurs during sports or out in the backwoods, you often can not just drop what your doing and go to the ER. Many coaches or trainers will attempt to relocate the finger, sometimes fixing it, sometimes not! Here's a basic guide to show you when, and how to attempt a finger relocation:

  1. Just keep in mind that you'll always have to have a doctor look at it.
  2. If the dislocation is absolutely unbearably painful, or if the victim will not let you attempt a relocation, then simply splint it in it's present position, so you can to minimize the discomfort from the affected area bouncing around, and go to the ER.
  3. If you decide to continue ….
    1. Gently squeeze the middle of the bones, NOT THE JOINT, in an attempt to see if the bone is broken. If you hear any crunching, stop, splint, go to ER.
    2. Then feel the joint gently. Try to ascertain wherever the tip of the distal (farther) bone is dislocated above or below the tip of the proximal (closer) bone.
    3. If you're sure that the bones are not broken, the grab the first bone with one hand (the side before the dislocated joint), then grab the distal bone (the bone after the dislocated joint) and pull firmly.
    4. Many times you'll have to apply direct pressure to the joint, with your thumb and forefinger, while pulling. In other words, you'll take the joint between your thumb and index finger and pull the distal bone, while making a squeezing snapping motion.
    5. This maneuver is not for the queasy. It hurts like hell, but it feels better immediately after it's back in. With that in mind, do it FAST AND DELIBERATELY. Do not be wimpy and try not to hurt your buddy, just get it in the first time. If you feel any crunching like broken glass, STOP!
    6. You'll feel it literally flop or pop back into place if you are successful.
    7. Check for full range of motion, or a remaining deformity, then go see a doctor.
    8. Have a beer, you deserve it!