The short answer is: smaller finger jams can clear up in a week or less, while most will heal within 2-3 weeks and with good care.
Basketball is a tough game. No matter how careful players are or how many precautions they take, injuries occur. While the lower body is particularly susceptible to such ailments, the extremities can easily get hurt too. Most notably, fingers.
Jammed fingers are one of the most common basketball injuries. Everyone who plays the game experiences them at some point, which is why so many are curious about how long it takes for them to heal. The following article will answer just that.
A Painful Jam
A jammed finger, as the name suggests, is an injury that occurs when a great amount of stress is applied to the finger joints. In basketball, that most commonly happens when a player hits their hand against the ball or when it gets caught on a defender during a rebound/steal.
In such cases, the finger either presses back into the body or it gets bent in an awkward way. Both scenarios cause the joint to immediately swell up and create a lot of damage within the extremity. It’s not incredibly serious, but it’s something that needs attention right away.
Quick Turn Around
Jammed fingers can be extremely painful, and are one of the most annoying sport injuries to deal with. However, they are also relatively minor. Most heal within two or three weeks, with smaller jams clearing up in a week or less. Even so, they still need a good amount of care.
Despite their quick-heal timeframe, the injuries may have lasting swollenness or sensitivity for months after the impact first occurs. Athletes may experience tenderness at the joints or base of the injured finger as well.
If a finger appears to be jammed but swells to an incredibly large size, or if it looks crooked and can’t be moved, players should seek medical attention right away. Such cases are more likely a break or dislocation than a regular jam. Knowing that difference is important for rehabilitation.
Getting Back on Track
Jammed fingers may not be as serious as breaks or sprains, but they are still injuries that require a lot of attention. As such, rest and ice are both recommended when they occur. How much depends on the severity of the injury, as well as the player’s propensity for contact.
The bottom line of jammed finger rehabilitation is rest (source). Players want to avoid aggravating the swollen area, and the best way to do that is to take a break from any harsh activities that might worsen the pain. If they’re able to, they should sit out for as long as it takes to heal.
For basketball players, that usually means missing a few games. During that time, the hurt player should spend a lot of time icing their finger. Compression and wraps go a long way too.
As the joint heals, it’s important to move it as well. Start with a few up and down motions, and then progress to full movements. Just only do what feels possible. If the pain increases during such stretches, it’s important to stop.
If a player isn’t able to fully rest, or if their jammed finger isn’t too severe, they can play with a finger brace. The small metal compression protects the injured area and ensures that nothing will hit or move the hurt joint during play.
However, should a player get hurt while wearing the brace, they need to come out of the game immediately.
Jammed fingers are not too serious as far as basketball injuries go, but they can become worse if players aren’t careful. A few weeks may seem like a long time to sit out, but it’s a lot better than waiting a month or more because they rushed back before they were ready.