Phalanx Fracture

A phalanx is any bone of the fingers or toes. A phalanx fracture is a crack or complete break in one of these bones.

A phalanx fracture can happen when your finger or toe is hit, pulled, jammed, crushed, or twisted. It is also possible for a tumor or cyst to weaken the bone, causing it to break easily when injured.

Symptoms may include:

  • a snapping or popping sound at the time of the injury
  • loss of function
  • pain and tenderness
  • swelling
  • deformity (sometimes)
  • discolored skin or bruising, which appears hours to days after the injury

Care for a phalanx fracture
Immediate care for a broken finger or toe includes:

  • Elevating your hand or foot, depending on where the fracture occurred
  • Applying ice to reduce swelling
  • Checking with your doctor

A diagnosis can be made only by your doctor. X-rays will be needed to determine if you have a fracture and the extent of your injury. If you were cut during the injury, you may need a tetanus shot or other treatment to avoid infection.

Treatment: Finger Fractures
Treatment for phalanx fractures in the hand depends on your break. Your doctor may prescribe:

  • Exercise to prevent stiffness and keep the joints mobile
  • Use of a splint or cast to support and hold the finger in place to promote healing
  • Surgery if the break needs to be set with pins, screws, or other hardware

Treatment: Toe Fractures
Similar to the hand, treatment for phalanx fractures in the foot depends on your break. Broken toes usually heal well without surgery or therapy. Many times, the broken toe can be "buddy taped" to an uninjured toe next to it. Only examination by your doctor can determine if this is an option. Treatment may also include:

  • Wearing a rigid flat-bottom shoe to support the toe. This will prevent the toes from bending during walking.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, for pain and swelling
  • Surgery if the toe has been broken too seriously for taping