"Jamming" a finger - How long to heal?

Two weeks ago I did a low-speed wipeout on my mountain bike. When I laid the bike down, I “jammed” the first finger on my right hand at the knuckle closest to the wrist. The knuckle didn’t pop out of place.

It still hurts. It was swollen 30% over normal for about a week but is now back to normal size. My range-of-motion is good,except it only goes about 60%-70% straight back. It’s sore in all positions, though I can still type.

Is this an average healing time for this type of injury?

It’s been awhile since I “jammed” a finger joint. I had no bruising or other sign that I might have broke it and the mechanism of injury would not suggest a break (I’ve broken fingers/severly injured finger joints before).

Any medical Dopers care to explain the mechanism of a “jam”?



I did a similar thing playing football in high school. I wore a splint for a week or so, but it took almost 2 years to completely heal. They told me it was ripped cartiledge(sp?). Even the smallest bumps or anything would flame it back up.

I hope for your sake it heals much quicker, BTW I’m not a medical person and just relaying a personal experience.

I jammed my finger in a fall from my horse and wore a splint for a couple weeks. It gave me pain for a bit more than that.

Good luck - I hope you feel 100% soon.


Jammed a knee once, in a bar. It hasn’t healed completely in 12 years. I could get hydrocortisone shots if it gets worse, but some soft-tissue stuff can hang around forever, especially if an inflammatory condition sets in.

Wow. I had a finger go about 65 degrees in a direction it wasn’t supposed to go once, grabbed it and pulled 'til it looked right, and it’s been fine since. Chalk one up for dumb luck.

I jammed the middle knuckle on the middle finger of my left hand once, pretty badly. (Some ill-advised drunken karate sparring. Star Trek-related. Don’t ask.)

It swelled up like the OP’s and hurt quite a bit for a week or so. Some tenderness for several weeks after that, and I couldn’t bend it all the way for almost three months. Perfectly fine now, though.

What does “jamming” mean? Bump, or bending backwards?

I take it to mean some sort of compression injury to a joint. More a hard bump than a bending, I think. At least mine didn’t involve any bending. Damage to cartilage or connective tissue, presumably, resulting in a lot of pain and stiffness. (Obviously, IANAD.)

I did the exact same thing on my road bike a month ago and the damn thing still hurts…nothing to do for it but use it as little as possible (no flipping anybody off), and good ol’ vitamin “I”.

I’ve jammed both my thumbs a number of times. The worst was a jam of my right thumb about, oh…9 months ago or so. It’s still not healed, I can no longer pop it out of place like I used to (I was double jointed at the second knuckle on both thumbs, now just the left), and at times, it still hurts if I bend it back too much. I’ve been told this is nothing special, and it’s probably going to take me a couple of years before it’s 100%.

Hate to tell you, but it’s going to take a looooong time to heal completely, but it should be functioning in another couple months.

I used to play basketball nearly every day in high school, and the jamming of fingers, while not a daily experience, was a fairly regular occurence. (Trying to take a low, fast pass, as I recall, was the easiest way to do this, as a ball striking the fingertips will illustrate…)

I can’t remember it ever taking more than a week or so for a jam to go back to normal, but it’s certainly possible that your particular injury is worse–I don’t remember too much swelling. I risk stating the obvious here, but the comparative time it takes to heal may depend a great deal on your age…

I jammed my left middle finger playing volleyball (incidentally, the same finger I wear all of my rings on). The middle joint was swollen for over 6 months. I even went to a Hand Doctor, who told me there was nothing I could do, it wasn’t broken, just… jammed I guess. Took almost a year before I could finally get my rings on again… still looks a little crooked to this day.

I jammed the ring finger on my right hand when I caught a softball on a short hop in grade school. I have arthritis in both hands and that finger is permanently bent more than the same finger on the other hand. I don’t know if there is a connection but I’ve always suspected that the finger never fully recovered.

Depending on how bad it got jammed, after main function is back in a month or two it takes about 1.5 to 2 years for the slight residual stiffness to mostly go away.

I’d have a doctor look at it to be sure it’s not banged up worse than you think. But I’ve had jammed joints that hurt for months. What if you cracked something or tore a ligament or other such horrors? Get it looked at.

i also work with horses and do various manual labor. some of it (the healing time) depends on how bad the initial injury was, and what prior or existing damage may be present in the affected joint.

i’ve jammed my thumb on the right hand, and had it be nearly useless as far as exerting pressure. i’ve also discovered that i have the beginnings of arthritis in my thumb joint. not sure which one came first, or if it’s cause-and-effect.

however, the week before Halloween i managed to jam one of my fingers, probably while loading/unloading props for setting up the County haunt. it was swollen for maybe a day or two, and definitely sore and rather stiff for maybe a week. but it’s completely all better now. i would probably typify that one as a “mild” injury, as jamming fingers go. yours sounds like it’s more likely in the “severe” range, since you probably had a lot more force exerted on impact.

if it’s been over 48 hours since the injury [re-reads OP–yup, definitely past that], maybe you’d want to consider some liniment-type medications to aid in recovery. i personally have great faith in what used to be known as Tiger Balm (red version particularly). i know the charging tiger emblem hasn’t changed at least. latest version seems to come in a tube, where before it was sold in small jars or large tins.

YMMV, of course. good luck on full recovery.