Jammed finger injuries refer to injuries sustained to the proximal interphalangeal joint. This joint connects your first and second phalanges; of the two joints in your fingers, this is the one that's furthest from the tips of your fingers. Athletes may injure this joint while playing sports; here are four things athletes need to know about jammed finger injuries.

How does this injury occur?

Jammed finger injuries occur when a direct blow to your finger tip forces your finger into an unnatural position. This force sprains the ligaments within your finger. This type of injury can easily occur in ball sports such as basketball. For example, if the ball bounces up into the tip of your finger while you're dribbling, you could get a jammed finger injury. It can also happen when you're trying to intercept the other team's pass.

What are the signs of this injury?

If you suffer a jammed finger injury, the affected finger will be swollen and sore. You may have trouble bending or moving your finger. If you experience these symptoms, don't try to play through the pain. You need to see a sports medicine doctor right away

How are jammed fingers treated?

Immediately after the injury, apply ice to the affected finger to help keep swelling and pain under control. Icing should be done for between 10 and 20 minutes. It's also important to rest the injured finger, as trying to play through the pain will only make your injury worse.

In addition to these home treatments, your doctor will tape your finger to protect the ligaments while they heal. Your injured finger will be taped to an adjacent, uninjured finger for one to six weeks, depending on the extent of your injury.

In addition to taping, your doctor will have you perform range of motion exercises. These are done to help keep your finger from becoming weak and stiff. Once you can do these exercises without pain, the tape can come off.

If your finger is still unstable after taping and exercises, you may need to have surgery to repair your ligaments. Your doctor will let you know if this is necessary for you.

When can you return to sports?

You can start playing sports again once your doctor has cleared you for activity. This timeframe will vary based on the extent of your injury. If your sprain is mild, you may be allowed to resume sports right away, as long as your finger is taped. If your sprain is severe, you may need to wait as long as six weeks to resume sports.

If you think you've suffered a jammed finger injury, stop playing sports and see a sports medicine doctor like Dr. Lisa M. Schoene right away.