What is it?

Dislocations to the joints of the finger or thumb can be caused by forceful trauma during a fall or direct trauma from an object such as a ball.

Finger dislocation is a common, serious injury. It occurs when the bones of the finger are moved (dislocated) from their normal anatomic position. Finger dislocation can occur in the joints of any finger but occurs most often in the middle knuckle of the little (pinky), ring, middle, or index finger. A break in the bone (fracture) may accompany these dislocations, but they frequently occur without fractures.

The best functional outcome from these injuries is dependent on achieving and maintaining a well-aligned and well-reduced joint and restoring motion.

Finger dislocations are often overlooked or dismissed as nothing more than a “jammed” or sprained finger, however, appropriate treatment may be delayed if you “self-treat” the injury. 


Accidents can cause the application of a “jamming” force to the end of the finger, or the finger may be forcefully hyperextended. Either of these situations or a combination of both can result in a dislocation.

  • During sports activities, a basketball, football or baseball may strike the tip of an outstretched finger.
  • The finger may be struck by equipment such as a hockey stick or become caught in a player’s jersey or knee pad.
  • The finger may strike the ground or pitch causing hyperextension or hyperflexion. 


Dislocations can be very painful and cause bruising and swelling to the surrounding area. Dislocations can significantly impact the movement of the finger/thumb, as the smooth edges of the joints are not aligned appropriately.

You may have a dislocated finger if:

  • your finger joint looks crooked or misshapen.
  • your finger bone appears dislodged, such as sticking out to one side.
  • you have swelling and bruising around the joint.
  • you have pain around the joint.
  • You are unable to move your finger


After a dislocation, it is important to seek medical attention to ensure the joint is appropriately relocated.

Even once the joint is back in position, it is likely there may be a sprain/tear to the surrounding ligaments. These ligaments may require immobilisation in a custom-made splint or buddy taping to ensure they adequately heal.

A further examination from a doctor and hand therapist will help to establish if there is any fracture, tendon injury, joint injury, or ligament damage that requires treatment.

Melbourne Hand Therapy Can Help

If you have dislocated a joint in your finger/thumb and are experiencing any of these symptoms, book a hand therapy appointment today with one of our experienced therapists. We will provide a thorough assessment, fabricate a custom-made splint if required, and provide the best care and rehabilitation to ensure you regain mobility of the affected finger and return to sport and functional activity as soon as possible.


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