Broken Knuckle


image001The knuckles located on top of the hand and underneath the fingers play an essential role for the hand to move, grasp, and perform all functions. They are tough, very thick bones that help your hand connect to your fingers. Although they are known to be strong bones, they like other bones on the body can still be fractured and broken.

A broken knuckle is fun- said no one ever. Yes, having a broken knuckle can be very painful and inconvenient. It can cause you not to be able to use your hand without feeling sharp pain. You hand can also be bruised, swollen, and discolored when you break the knuckle in it.

If you feel that you may have a broken knuckle you can see a doctor. The doctor will perform an X-ray to diagnose the break. There are several ways that a doctor or you (at home) can treat, mend, and gain pain relief from a broken knuckle.

Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Knuckle

The largest cause of a broken knuckle is direct trauma such as punching someone or something hard. Often broken knuckles are called boxer’s fractures, because boxers break their knuckles often. However, broken knuckles can be caused by something heavy crushing the knuckle, a fall, car accident, and other miscellaneous causes.¬†If you think you may have a broken knuckle here are some of the signs and symptoms you may be experiencing:

Immediate & Sharp, Stinging Upon Injury

Anytime you break or fracture your knuckle it will hurt immediately after the injury occurs. It is an aching, stabbing, sharp or dull pain but it is there and you should know it. Even with little pain if your hand has undergone a trauma directly and it hurts in your knuckle region you could still very well have broken something. The pain also can coincide with the severity of the injury, itself.

Bruising and Discoloration in the Area

When a trauma has occurred in the knuckle of your hand, it results in a loss of blood in the region where the damage is done. As this blood pools up it appears as redness, purple, blue discoloration of the pigment of your skin- also known as bruising. Sometimes a broken knuckle will not bruise, however more serious breaks will prominently bruise.

Numbness and Swelling

Typically within only a few minutes of sustaining the injury or broken knuckle you will experience numbness and tingling sensations. This happens as the swelling progresses because when something swells it has a tendency to crush and compress the nerves that give you ‘feeling.’ The swelling will take place very rapidly and before a short time passes you may also discover it hard to move your hand. Additionally, the swelling & bruising can refer to other parts of your hand and down to your fingers, occasionally.

Knuckle Retracts and Will Look Sunk In

This is typically a sure-fire certain sign that you have a broken knuckle! If the bone that connects a few or just a single part of your finger looks like it has disappeared when you contract or tighten you hand- you can bet you have  broken knuckle and that the bone has been crushed and severely compromised.

Here are some pictures of Broken Knuckles to give you an Idea of what one looks like!

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Treatments and Protocols for a Broken Knuckle

When it comes to having a broken knuckle you may need to see a doctor immediately upon injury to have it taken care of and X-rayed. Here are some of the ways that you can or your doctor will treat you for a broken knuckle:

Scrapes, Lacerations and Wounds

Often if have hit something with your hand or it has been directly smashed you will notice scrapes, lacerations, cuts or wounds that need to be treated. You should stop the bleeding first, clean the wound with soap and water, rinse, dry and then bandage it up so you do not fall prey to infections that can occur from exposure to bacteria.

Pain Management

Since you broke your knuckle you are most likely experiencing pain when you move your hand, and also pain associated with the swelling. This type of pain can range from a constant dull ache to a very sharp pain that throbs. The best way that you can help to get some relief is to take an anti-inflammatory over the counter medicine such as tylenol, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium. Often if your pain is sever enough a doctor may even provide you with a stronger medicine available by prescription only.

Another way that you can also manage your pain is to put ice on the area that is affected. It will help take the swelling down and to numb the pain. It is recommended that you elevate your arm and hand so that the blood flow and throbbing is not as intense. Elevation can help alleviate that throbbing pain caused by blood flow pumping through where you injury is located.

Get Swelling Down

The swelling can be a bad thing! It can cause more pain than anything so it is important that you take and utilize an ice pack along with an anti-inflammatory medication to help take care of the swelling as quickly and optimally as possible. Many times the doctor will not cast a hand or be able to do any type of treatment to it if swelling is serious.

Splint or Cast

When a knuckle is broken and really out of place, your doctor or you can tape it to a stationary position either by using a splint or by using another finger or other parts of the hand to stabilize it.

Surgeries for Severely Broken Knuckles

Many times a broken knuckle with rest, ice, and a splint can heal on its own. Usually 4-6 weeks time. However, in more serious circumstances the break can be so severe that it merits medical intervention in the form of surgery. The doctor will decide what he needs to know for you to have the best prognosis whether it is wiring your hand or using metal plates to reinforce the bone.


  1. My son broke his small finger knuckle 4 days ago it is in a cast. But he complaining it really sore (didn’t complain this much first couple days) is this pain normal I’ve been giving him medicine but doesn’t. Seem to do much

    • It is possible that this pain is normal. It is possible that there is another symptoms. Your son may have a high or low pain tolerance. If you believe that he would benefit from visiting a medical professional, then make an appointment. Continue to monitor his symptoms. Have a great day, Elaine!

  2. Hi I punched something repeatedly because I was angry and I can’t tell if I ve fractured it or not. It’s swollen and red and I also have broken skin on the area.I can make a fist but I can’t stretch my pinkie finger upwards as it hurts and it also hurts to touch it. Pls help.

    • It is certainly possible that you seriously damaged your hand. Visit a medical professional as soon as you are able to do so. Abstain from choosing to take inappropriate actions. There is no benefit to be gained by punching, kicking, or attacking something. Allow this pain to guide you to control your emotions. Best of luck, Isobel!

  3. I fell backwards other day it was so slick and I injured my knuckles. It don’t hurt or anything just bruised and kinda numb I don’t know if it just bruised or what.

    • It is possible that you suffered an injury. Continue to monitor the experiences that you are having. You may want to speak with a medical professional. If you find that you experience severe pain or enduring pain, then speak with a medical professional. Have a great day, Joseph!

  4. Please reply
    I fractured my middle large knuckle on right hand
    Had surgery to clean minor fractured pieces out/ no plates or wire required
    severed tendon repair on same middle finger also
    5 months later my right hand still looks like the day after surgery with a huge golf ball size lump around the middle knuckle as your image shows above..
    How long will my knuckle stay so swollen for and is there anything i can do to reduce the swelling now as it looks terrible and is painfull to try and use with it so swollen..
    Please any advice?

    • Speak with a medical professional at this time. They will be able to give you advice that is beneficial for you. You may want to set your hand. Abstain from using it at this time. Reduce stress in your life. Drink plenty of water and rest when possible. Best of luck, Andre!

  5. Hi my name is Tyrese Jefferson and I street box, No gloves no rules. My left ring finger feels like its a flowing piece of bone I am scared can someone give me advice

    • It is possible that you have damaged your hand. It is certainly possible that you have fractured your bone. It would be wise for you to stop boxing, as it will only bring you physical harm. You would be best served to speak with a medical professional. Abstain from using your hand while you are healing. Additional damage at this time could lead to excessive damage. Best of luck, Tyrese!

  6. I did something very embarrassing over a month ago and my hand has still not healed. My hand is still notably swollen but it’s like my actual knuckle bone has doubled in size. I still cannot make a fist and it is very uncomfortable. I have insurance but have avoided the Dr because I am embarrassed. I’m not the type of girl to loose my temper much less hit something. Does it sound like it is not going to heal on its own?

    • If you have insurance, then you should speak with a medical professional. Never let an emotion, especially embarrassment, prevent you from taking care of your body. Your body could naturally heal on its own, but it could also heal incorrectly. Make an appointment at this time. Best of luck, Julie!

  7. my middle knuckle is pretty swolen it seems like theres a hard round thing on top of it , it hurts to make even a partial fist (i punched the door out of anger), can i use a sling/ how do i wrap it

    • You should go to the doctor. If you broke it, the bone may not be in the right position to heal properly. Your doctor can make sure that you did not break the bone. If you did, he or she can take care of the setting and wrapping for you.

  8. So i punched a wall a few times and my middle knuckle is swollen but has very little pain and very little discoloration and i can make a fist and open it with just slight pain woukd it be broken or bruised

    • It could be either. The only way to find out for sure is to go to the doctor and be checked out. In the future, you may want to switch to pillows if you have to punch something. Good luck and stay safe, Dylan!

  9. Hi.
    I punched a refrigerator a week ago. When I punched it, my middle knuckle was in a lot of pain and it swelled a lot, maybe even three times the normal size. The next day, my whole hand was really swollen and I couldn’t make a fist. When the swelling went down, there was a white ring around that injuried knuckle and a dent. It is still swollen and I feel a ledge right before the dent. Should I see a doctor? Thanks

    • You will want to speak with a medical professional. There many be serious damage in your knuckle that you will want to take care of. You should be more mindful in the future. There is no reason to harm yourself. Control your emotions and you will find that your life will be easier. Have a great day, Nicole!

  10. I recently punched a concrete wall out of anger. It is very hard to type this. When I make a fist, my pinkie knuckle is gone. There is an indent. My middle finger knuckle is the size of a golf ball. It is very hard to move my fingers and make a fist. My parents and family think that I just bruised it. The pain is so intense and they won’t take me to the ER or the doctor. Do you think I broke it? And should I go to the ER?

    • You don’t have to go to the emergency room. It would be better to just go to your normal doctor to get checked out–and cheaper as well. Emergency rooms are generally intended for emergency care like difficulty breathing, car accidents and acute illnesses like appendicitis. You may have just bruised it, but there could also be a fracture. The only way to know is to call your doctor and make an appointment. Until then, ice the knuckle and try your best not to move it. You should go to your doctor though to make sure that you did not fracture it.

  11. Friday night I punched a wall and ever since my pinkie buckle is bruised and its on my left hand and its hard for me to grab things I can’t put any pressure on the left side of my pinkie can u help or give me advice?

    • Refrain from punching things in the future. You certainly have damaged your hand. It would be best for you to learn better and more constructive ways to deal with your anger. Speak with a doctor about your hand, as they will be able to tell you what is wrong with it. Be mindful in the future. Have a good day, Nichole!

        • You will want to go to your school and speak with your nurse. Explain that your mother will not care for you. Your nurse may bring you to a place where you can get help. You will want to explain to the nurse that you have asked your mother to care for you, but she will not do so. Best of luck, Nichole!


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