Background & Etiology

Ligaments are fibrous bands of connective tissue made of collagen, which join bone to bone. They provide stability and limit excessive motion of the joint. In the fingers there are several ligaments that can be stretched or torn, causing a sprain. In addition, there are different degrees of instability that can occur in the fingers, like dislocation.


The ligaments in the fingers include the central slip of the extensor tendons, collateral ligaments (radial and ulnar at each joint), and the volar plates. There are three grades of finger sprain:

  • Grade 1 – The mildest form of sprain where the ligament is stretched, not torn.
  • Grade 2 – The ligament is partially torn
  • Grade 3 – The ligament is completely torn. The most serious type of sprain, this condition may require surgery

It is important to have a finger injury evaluated by a physician to properly diagnose the grade of a finger sprain. In some cases an X-Ray or CT scan will be used to evaluate the injury.

Finger sprains are a common injury, often caused by a fall on an outstretched hand (FOOSH) or “jamming” finger during forceful activities. Typically these are the result of athletic or recreational activities where an individual uses their hands to protect themselves.

  • Finger pain or tenderness
  • Swelling or bruising at the finger
  • Pain when moving or using the finger in daily activities
  • A “popping” or “tearing” feeling in the finger
  • Warmth or redness of the skin on the injured finger

If an individual suspects they have a finger sprain, the initial treatment should consist of avoiding the positions and activities that produce the pain. A course of conservative treatment is usually recommended that includes rest and immobilization, ice, physical therapy and non-steroidal medications to reduce inflammation. If symptoms persist, treatment by your physician may be necessary. This may include steroidal medication or injections, in conjunction with therapy. In severe cases surgical intervention may be needed to repair the torn ligament.

Hand Therapists are occupational therapists or physical therapists who through advanced study and experience, specialize in treating individuals with conditions affecting the hands and upper extremity. A hand specialist may also have advanced certification as a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT). A qualified hand therapist is educated and trained to administer interventions. As stated in The Guide to Physical Therapist Practice, interventions are the skilled and purposeful use of therapy methods and techniques to produce changes consistent with the diagnosis, prognosis and goal of the patient or client. Common interventions in the treatment of Finger Sprain include:


  • Manual Therapeutic Technique (MTT): hands on care including soft tissue massage, deep friction massage and joint mobilization by a hand therapist to regain mobility and range of motion of the finger and ligament.
  • Therapeutic Exercises (TE) including stretching and strengthening exercises to regain range of motion, function and strengthen the fingers.
  • Neuromuscular Reeducation (NMR) to restore stability, retrain the upper extremity, and improve movement technique and mechanics in daily use of the involved upper extremity.
  • Splinting for stabilizing or mobilizing the involved joint as needed.
  • Modalities that can include the use of ultrasound, electrical stimulation, ice, cold laser and others to decrease pain and inflammation at the finger and ligament
  • Home program that includes strengthening, stretching and stabilization exercises and instructions to help the person perform daily tasks and advance to the next functional level.

Procedures that your physician may recommend and perform in addition to physical therapy that include:

  • REST and ICE
  • The use of NSAIDS (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs)
  • Steroidal injections to reduce inflammation
  • Pain medication to reduce the discomfort and allow the patient to perform the recommended exercises
  • Splinting and immobilization of the effected finger
  • Surgery to correct underlying pathology or the cause of the sprain


Most people recover full function following a course of conservative care that includes hand therapy, to strengthen and stabilize the fingers. Those with more involved conditions like ligament tears and chronic dislocations will require surgery and intensive hand therapy afterward to restore full function.

Schedule an

Get back to doing what you love.

We are dedicated physical therapists that genuinely care. We strive to restore you to your former self, no matter the injury.


Real People, Real Testimonials.

"I am thankful for the treatment I received ant all of the excellent people that administer the therapy. Over time I have used your PT several times and always have found your service be the best. PT for my knee replacement and back pain issues always worked and I would always choose it over pain drugs that can be addictive. Some experience with others confirmed that you are the best. I am giving your treatment five stars because you do deserve that ranking. Good luck in the future."

Joseph R.

“Since receiving treatment here, I can see and feel positive results in the areas treated. The atmosphere is most pleasant and relaxing which I feel also aids in recover.”


"I have had the pleasure of attending Twin Boro Physical Therapy this past year and prior to Optimum Health becoming Twin Boro, I had been a patient since 2006. The entire staff is very caring, professional, and make your PT sessions fun. There is always something to laugh about and get you through your pain! A special thanks to Keith for all he has done for me over the years!"

Donna R.

“A first class operation, I would recommend Twin Boro to family and friends.”


View all Testimonials

We have 23 convenient locations

We love being close to our patients. Find out which of our premier facilities is nearest you!

VIew a list of all locations