School Nurse Emergency Highlight – Finger Jam

Student fingers have a nasty habit of getting jammed in car doors, lockers and drawers. But a finger can also be jammed playing sports. The injury is usually minor, but the pain can be delayed and substantial.


  1. If bleeding is present, apply gentle pressure with a sterile dressing until it stops. Seek emergency medical assistance if profuse bleeding or exposed bone is present. 
  2. If student’s skin isn’t broken, place an ice pack on the fingers as soon as possible to ease pain and swelling. 
  3. Tape the injured finger to the adjacent uninjured one, like a splint. Never wrap too tightly as this will reduce blood and oxygen flow and slow down healing.
  4. Elevate the injured site to avoid painful throbbing 
  5. After a 2-3 minutes, carefully try to move the fingers. Gently resume movement if possible.
  6. If the student’s finger looks deformed, is numb or unable to move, seek further medical assistance. 


Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if the student can’t tolerate an ice pack on the injury? If the student is in a lot of pain, sometimes the addition of extreme cold is too much. Apply a cool compress and direct the student to a medical clinic, or call an ambulance if the pain is extreme.

How do the symptoms of a jammed finger differ from a fractured finger?

A student with a jammed finger will experience significant pain, redness and swelling at the site of the injury, and difficulty using the finger. A student with a fractured finger will experience severe pain, swelling that lasts for hours or even days, and an inability to bend or straighten the finger at all.

What is a sports-related finger jam?

When a student’s fingertip is at the receiving end of a speeding ball, the finger joint or knuckle can be sprained or “jammed” by the full impact. Similarly when breaking a fall, a student may hit the ground hand first and jam a finger. Apply the same first aid as above.

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