How to Reduce a Dislocated Finger or Toe

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How to Reduce a Dislocated Finger or Toe. Dislocations of fingers and toes are common, but very painful. It's often relatively easy for a rescuer to put these digits back into place ("reduce"), bringing quick relief to the injured person.

Things You'll Need

  • Splint
  • Tape

Preparation

Calm the injured person down, making the person as comfortable and relaxed as possible.

Determine quickly whether or not reducing the dislocation (putting the bones back in line) is necessary (see "How to Decide Whether or Not to Reduce a Dislocation").

If reduction of the dislocation is necessary, calmly walk the injured person through each step, securing the person's agreement and cooperation.

Reduction and Splinting

Position yourself so that you are facing the injured person.

Hold the finger or toe firmly with both hands, keeping it in a slightly bent (flexed) position. Do this by placing one hand below the base of the dislocated joint and the other at the end of the tip of the finger or toe.

Pull gently on the tip of the finger or toe along the line in which the bones normally lie, as if trying to lengthen it in a straight line, while simultaneously pushing the joint back into place with your other hand.

Splint the finger or toe by taping it to the neighboring digit, cushioning the splint with a gauze pad between the two fingers or toes. Do not put tape directly on the joint.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not force the digit back into place. Stop immediately if pain increases or the digit resists manipulation.
  • It may be difficult to reduce a dislocation at the base of the index finger or thumb. If you attempt to reduce the finger and fail, splint the finger and seek medical help immediately. Surgery may be required.
  • Reducing dislocations is risky because vessels may be damaged when bones and joints are manipulated. Despite this risk, you should reduce dislocations in remote settings to prevent further injury to the joint and limbs. Enroll in a first aid class or consult a trained medical professional before attempting this procedure.
  • This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

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