popping jammed joints

hey everybody, what’s up.

on superbowl sunday, i was playing some two-hand touch, and fuckered my finger rather early on. not a bad fuckering, by any means. it did what my fingers always do when presented with a ball- break.

my fingers tend to break in identical ways. my ligaments are strong, and my phalanges are also quite strong. so when stressed, they do what i do- they snap.

the ligament pulls off of the knuckle, and i am left with a minor break about which really nothing can be done (even splinting’s not worth it).

anyway, every time i have broken bones in this way (at least five times, according to my gnarled finger count) someone (usually my mother) tells me that the finger is simply ‘jammed’.

sure, okay. i can deal with ‘jammed’. except that unjamming involves grabbing the finger, and yanking it as hard a possible. remember, this a finger which is (according to later radiologic examinations) broken.


anyway, what is the logic behind a jammed finger? is it dislocated? if not, what? and what purpose does popping the joint do?

thanks in advance,



The word jammed is a lay term that does not correspond to any specific diagnosis. Most of the time, whenever I take a volleyball, basketball, football, softball, etc. right on the finger tip, it slams the bone ends together and they start to swell up. The tiny ligamentous fibers that comprise the joint capsule are richly innervated, and the joint just loves to fill with fluid (edema).

The important key point to remember is that with your history, radiographs are unquestionably essential PRIOR to any grabbing and yanking on an injured digit. You are trying to rule out fracture, possibly to detect subluxation or luxation (dislocation). If the films reveal no fracture, then specific manipulation of the affected joint by a skilled professional who does it every day is the modality of choice, followed by rest, ice, compression and elevation (“RICE”). The manipulation has the effect of realigning the joint in the case of luxation, and/or helping to re-establish optimal nerve firing patterns between nerve endings in the joint called mechanoreceptors and the spinal cord. Also, it can burst nitrogen gas bubbles within the joint, allowing for more freedom of movement. After 48-72 hours, MOIST heat can be introduced into the equation. Some texts say begin with ice and end with ice, while others say you can end with heat if you want. 20 minutes of each, alternating, is called contrast therapy. And keep the joint moving as much as possible, or else the ligaments will tend to heal with tight constructures of scar tissue and result in markedly reduced range of motion. It’s important to stretch them as they heal, even though it isn’t always pleasurable. Just don’t overdo it–go to the end of the range of motion, just to the point of pain, then back off a hair, and hold it there for 30 seconds. Then go the other way and do the same thing. Over and over, every time you think about it, for months. (Months?) If need be. This way, you rehab your OWN finger. Save time and money!

Hope that helps


wow! rock and roll, thanks a lot, hyjyljyj. how can you write so well, yet only have 46 posts since 12/01?!?

anyway, the finger’s doing great. in fact, all of my fingers tend to heal to almost-optimal. the only lasting effect is an inability to crack the first knuckle (closest to the fingernail) of my left index finger. feels like i’m going to smash my pointer to pieces when i try.