Ligaments in the Finger


Ligaments in the Finger


Ligaments in the finger are commonly injured. Learn more here.

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Understanding the basic anatomy of the hand is useful in understanding different types of injuries that can occur. The finger is constructed of ligaments (strong connective tissue which connects bone to bone, tendons (which connects muscle to bone) and 3 phalanges bones in each finger except thumb has 2 phalange bones.  There are no muscles in the fingers, only tendons and ligament. Fingers move by pulling the forearm and/or intrinsic hand muscles via tendon.


The 3 bones in finger are named according to their location to the palm from closest to farthest (proximal, middle and distal phalange). Each finger has multiple ligaments which are strong connective tissue bands that connect bone to bone. Ligaments in the finger provide stability as the finger moves. Injury to ligaments in the finger can cause long term complications if not address promptly.  Ligaments in the finger keep the finger in proper alignment. Physicians and therapist will evaluate stability of the finger by assessing if the finger has excessive mobility to one side or the other which can indicate possibly that the ligament has been stretched or torn.

Ligaments in the Finger

There are 2 Collateral Ligaments one of each side of each joint in the finger to provide stability. Joint instability can limit finger range of motion (ROM) to perform full flexion with making a tight fist or full extension to lay hand flat on table.  The Annular Ligaments of the hand and finger are referred to as pulley’s which form tunnels on palm side of hand and into the finger for the tendons to pass through. Injury to a pulley can cause bowstring of tendon and limited smooth motion. Digital Cutaneous Ligaments tether the skin to the bone to prevent increase movement of the skin when gripping. The Central Slip and Lateral Bands are ligaments which are components of Expansion Hood on dorsum/back of the finger which help extend fingers. Injury to Central slip can prevent a person from full straightening finger.

Ligaments in the Finger- Common Injuries

The most common ligament injury of the finger is to the middles joint of the finger or medically referred to as proximal interphalangeal joint (PIP joint). People will refer to this injury as “jamming my finger”. A common injury to the middle joint is to the Volar Plate which is a sturdy band of connective tissue which prevents hyperextension of the finger. The Volar Plate can be partial or fully torn due to backward force.

The most common ligament injury of the thumb is to the Ulnar Collateral Ligament which provides stability during grasp and pinch. Injury to the UCL  is referred to as skiers thumb when falling on outstretched thumb away from hand (bending backwards) or  game keepers thumb from repetitive motion/overuse.

Seek medical attention anytime a finger injury has extreme pain, alignment issue, dislocation or if symptoms do not improve within 24-48 hours. Buddy taping two fingers together for stability or finger splint can promote healing of ligaments by reduce the  stress to the ligaments. X-rays may be necessary to check for fractures. If a ligament in the finger is partially torn a cast/splint may be worn for 6 weeks to allow alignment to heal. When completely torn, surgery may be required with casting. If an injury to a ligament in the finger is left untreated it can lead to instability of a joint and finger deformities such as Bountoniere Deformity or Swan Neck Deformity.

JOI Fracture and Injury Care

JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP fracture and injury care. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care. Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000.

If you feel you may be suffering from these conditions, our dedicated team of orthopedic specialists is ready to help you! To schedule an appointment call JOI-2000 or click the button below to schedule an appointment online.

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By: Terri Ahern

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