A finger sprain can happen when you least expect it. While they generally only cause minor discomfort, a severe strain usually requires a prompt trip to the doctor or emergency room. Finger sprains may take a long time to heal correctly, with pain or discomfort lasting anywhere from a week or two for mild sprains, to over six weeks for more serious sprains, while the injury may take even longer to heal without proper support or medical attention.

One of the most effective ways to treat a finger sprain is with sports or athletic tape, which helps to reduce swelling and inflammation. Taping also provides additional support, while keeping the injured finger immobile. But before you tape a finger sprain, you need to understand that there are situations where it can cause more harm than good, such as, extremely severe sprains or when broken bones are suspected. To help you learn more about how to tape a finger sprain, here are a few useful facts to consider:

What is a finger sprain?

Possible Finger Sprain that could be caused by doing sports

The finger is made up of several small connecting bones and joints that work together to enable your hands to grip and articulate properly. These bones and joints are linked and supported by ligaments. It is damage to these ligaments that causes finger sprains, typically leading to varying degrees of inflammation, swelling and pain. A common way to alleviate these symptoms and improve recovery time is through the immediate application of the P.R.I.C.E. principle (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) as a first aid response.

It is challenging to use your hand when suffering from this type of finger injury; it is likely that you will feel some level of pain with even the slightest movement or touch. This is why most medical professionals agree that the best healing approach is rest and rehabilitation. Depending on how severe the finger sprain is, a week of basic care may be all that it takes for your finger to heal fully.

What are the Symptoms of a Finger Sprain?

Closed fist

While pain is obviously an immediate, tell-tale sign that an injury has taken place, the development of inflammation is the first indication of damage to the ligaments (what we commonly refer to as a finger sprain). Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury, but while it helps to prevent more damage, the faster it can be reduced, the better an injury will heal.

Aside from inflammation, other symptoms of a finger sprain include redness and swelling. These are byproducts of inflammation at the site of injury, helping to indicate the damaged part of the finger. Attempting to move the finger may cause acute pain, while you probably will be unable to bend or extend the finger if you have suffered a severe sprain. Another symptom of a finger sprain is bruising, which typically manifests over the course of a few days following the injury. Throbbing pain may occur whenever you rest the finger on a flat surface, or let your hand hang down by your side.

Being able to recognize the difference between a sprained finger and a broken finger is obviously very important. Unlike a sprain, a fracture involves damage to the bones or joints and will require professional medical treatment to heal. Broken fingers are generally typified by almost immediate, excruciating pain following the injury, while affected fingers may look misaligned or disfigured.

Although symptoms of a break may be similar to those of a severe sprain, it is almost impossible to move a broken finger at all without experiencing intense pain. If you are unsure whether you have a finger sprain or a broken finger, we highly recommend that you seek medical advice straight away, so that you can go through proper testing and avoid the improper healing of the bone in case of a fracture.

Why Should You Tape a Finger Sprain?

Man with a finger sprain taped

Athletes tape their fingers in various sports such as volleyball, jiu-jitsu, gymnastics and other activities heavily involving the use of their hands, and they do this for good reason. The fingers are frequently exposed to harsh impacts and pressure in these kinds of activities, so those taking part need to protect their fingers somehow from sprains and other common injuries. When used properly, sports tape can be all the support your fingers need for optimum performance.

Here are a few benefits of using tape for a finger sprain:

1) Taping a finger sprain allows it to heal faster

A sports tape will provide compression on an injured finger. By normalizing the pressure on an injury, you may be able to minimize swelling by pushing excess fluids out of the damaged area. This is critical, because too much swelling can prevent tissues from healing properly. Using tape may also allow vital nutrients and oxygen to flow towards damaged tissues so your fingers can recover faster. The sooner you deal with swelling and inflammation, the sooner you will be able to reduce the pain caused by the finger sprain. At the same time though, you should be aware that inflammation is part of the body’s natural response to an injury, so some doctors warn against the immediate or excessive use of anti-inflammatory medications.

2) You may be able to return to sport sooner than expected

For minor finger sprains, using tape properly may help you to keep on playing, by providing adequate support to the injured area so you won’t feel as much pain or discomfort. Although you might still not be able to perform at 100% capacity, it will at least let you to regain a certain amount of hand or finger movement depending on the extent of your injury, allowing you to get back in the game.

3) Taping can prevent you from aggravating an existing sprain

After receiving first aid or seeking out proper medical treatment, it is always best to tape your fingers to avoid making matters worse. In most cases, injured ligaments will be weakened for some time, so new strains or tears are far more likely if you don’t give your fingers the support they need. Taping an injured finger helps to both immobilize and stabilize it. This provides it with more protection against further damage and allows the healing process to continue.

When Should You Tape a Finger Injury?

In most cases, using tape on a finger sprain is beneficial, but this is not always the case. You can certainly use tape on minor finger sprains, after treatment from a physiotherapist for a finger injury, or to protect an existing sprain, while it is also an effective preventative measure against avoidable finger injuries.

On the other hand, you should avoid taping a finger if you suspect a bone might be broken. In this case you should always seek professional medical advice, as using tape on broken finger bones can often do more harm than good, unless you have been advised to do so by a doctor or physiotherapist. You should also avoid tape if you have circulatory problems. Even if this isn’t the case, you should still avoid using tape for extended periods, since it may hinder proper blood circulation and prevent your tissues from regaining adequate strength and function. Another thing to consider is that the adhesives in some types of tape may trigger allergies or irritations, especially if you have sensitive skin.

How to Tape a Finger Sprain

Taping a sprain

To tape a finger sprain, you will need to use reliable sports or athletic tape, although you might be able to use gymnastics tape if you do not have any other sports tape readily available. We highly recommend self-adhering finger tape, which will not stick to your skin and is designed for industrial or sports medicine applications.

There are many ways to tape a finger sprain, but to provide the best support, most people advocate the buddy tape technique. Just follow these easy steps:

1) Create two anchor points

Using finger tape, cut two strips long enough to wrap around your finger at least one-and-a-half times. Wrap the first strip at least an inch above the injured area and the second one below the injured area. Do not wrap these anchor points too tightly around the finger, as they are not meant for compression.

2) Cushion both fingers

Place a cotton ball in the bony area where the injured finger meets the next finger. This will help to cushion the injured area and may even ease any discomfort, since taping the two fingers together will straighten and immobilize the injured finger.

3) Tape the two fingers together

Using the finger tape, start from the bottom anchor and, gently applying pressure, wrap the tape around both fingers, making sure that it overlaps itself by at least half its own width. During this step, you may be able to give the injured finger a bit of compression to promote the drainage of excess fluids and to encourage proper blood flow.

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4) Make sure that both fingers are wrapped securely

To avoid the risk of restricting circulation, It is very important to ensure that your fingers are not taped too tightly. The tape should support the injured finger by allowing it to stay comfortably straight – it should never cause the finger to bend, twist, or extend. When you have finished taping up the fingers, you can check whether there is still enough circulation by pressing the tips of your fingers and then releasing. If they regain their color it means that blood can still flow into those areas, but if they stay pale then the tape is cutting off circulation. If you start to feel tingling sensations, it is another sign that the tape has been wrapped too tightly. You should remove the tape and rewrap it, making sure that it is snug, but not too tight.

5) Remember to remove the tape

Minor finger sprains may only take one week to heal. In most cases, two weeks will be more than enough time for most mild finger sprains to recover. Make sure that you remove the tape once the sprain has had enough time to heal. This will allow your fingers to regain their normal grip strength and movement.

Conclusion

Tape for a finger sprain

If you are experiencing mild to severe pain after jamming or twisting your finger, there is a good chance that you are suffering from a finger sprain. As noted, the most common symptoms of finger sprains include inflammation and swelling. Finger sprains happen when the ligaments supporting your finger bones and joints are injured. In most cases, the proper first aid response and the use of rest and compression are enough to allow the injury to heal on its own over the course of several days. Severe finger sprains, on the other hand, may require physiotherapy and/or professional medical attention.

One of the best ways to hasten the recovery of finger sprains is with finger tape. Using techniques like the buddy method, your finger can be immobilized, allowing it the time it needs to heal. When you tape a finger sprain, you are also allowing excess fluids to drain out of, and nutrients to flow into, the damaged tissues. Taping finger sprains also helps to provide support so that you can keep on enjoying your favorite activities without doing further damage to your ligaments, while it’s also seen as a useful practice for preventing injuries in activities where finger ligaments are frequently put under a lot of strain or pressure. If you take part in ball sports like volleyball or basketball, or extreme activities like rock climbing where your fingers come under constant stress, we highly recommend taking a look at some sports tape products that suit your specific needs.

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