Why Injured Fingers Need to Be Taped With a Buddy (2022)

Some finger injuries can be severe enough to require stitches or surgery. However, mild injuries can often be treated at home with basic first aid techniques. This includes a procedure called buddy taping that helps stabilize an injured finger by taping it to the adjacent finger.

This article outlines when buddy taping is used (and not used), how it is performed, and possible complications you need to watch out for.

1

Examine the Injured Finger

Why Injured Fingers Need to Be Taped With a Buddy (1)

Buddy taping can be used forminor finger injuries such as sprains or strains. Although doctors sometimes use buddy taping for minor fractures, they only do so after the finger has been X-rayed and they are confident that the fracture will heal normally.

If there isn't an open wound, look to see if the finger isdeformed in any way. If the finger is bent at an abnormal angle, has a visible protrusion, or is severely swollen, go to the nearest emergency department.

Things like a ​mallet finger(in which the top of the finger bends abnormally toward the palm) or a dislocated finger should not be treated at home.

Finger injuries with no obvious deformity can be immobilized with buddy taping. This helps stabilize the finger and prevents further aggravation of the injury.

Recap

Buddy taping should only be used when there are no physical deformities in the injured finger. If there is any chance that the finger has been fractured or dislocated, seek immediate treatment.

2

Use Medical Cloth Tape

Why Injured Fingers Need to Be Taped With a Buddy (2)

Buddy taping is best done with medical cloth tape. Medical cloth tape is woven in such a way that it can be easily torn alongeither crosswise or lengthwise. It is also waterproof and has less "give" than other, less-sturdy tapes.

(Video) Buddy Taping for finger injuries

Medical tape can be cut lengthwise to fit. Joints nearer to the tip of the finger may require a narrower piece of tape than those closer to the knuckle.

You can create whatever width you need by starting a small tear at the end of the tape. Once you've done that, the tape will continue to come off the roll in whatever width you've created.

Recap

Medical cloth tape is the best choice for buddy taping as it is waterproof, sturdy, and can be cut either crosswise or lengthwise.

3

Tape Between Joints

Why Injured Fingers Need to Be Taped With a Buddy (3)

Cut or tear each piece of tape long enough to encircle the injured and adjacent finger.

Apply onepiece of tape between the first and second joints, and place another between the second and third joints (as pictured above).

The pieces need to be as wide as possible to ensure comfort and stability but still be narrow enough not to cover the joints.

Wrap the tape firmly but not so tight that it causes the fingers to swell, turn colors, or become numb. If this happens, remove the tape and try again with a new piece of tape.

If done properly, the injured finger can still flex and extend so that you can grip things, but it won't be able to twist or move side-to-side.

Recap

Apply the medical tape between the first and second joints of the injured and adjacent finger. Apply another piece between the second and third joints. Do not cover the joints.

4

Buddy Taping Ring and Pinkie Fingers

Why Injured Fingers Need to Be Taped With a Buddy (4)

(Video) How to Buddy Strap your Broken or Dislocated Finger

Taping the pinkie finger can be tricky because it is much shorter than the adjacent ring finger.

Even so, if either of these two fingers is injured, it is best to tape them together. Doing so ensures better functionality until the injury heals. If you tape the ring fingerto the middle finger, it will be harder to grip things.

To properly buddy tape a ring and pinkie finger, you will have to angle the pieces of tape. It can take a few tries to get it right. Don't be afraid to peel off the tape and start again if things don't look or feel right. Tape is cheap.

Recap

Although it can be tricky, always buddy tape a pinkie finger and ring finger together if either is injured. Doing so allows you to grip things more easily than if the ring finger and middle finger are buddy taped.

Possible Complications

Buddy taping is a common way to treat finger and toe injuries, but there are a few drawbacks and concerns to be aware of. These include:

  • Irritation: Tape, even medical tape, can irritate sensitive skin. Applying a little moisturizer to the skin and letting it dry before taping may help reduce the irritation.
  • Pressure sores between fingers: To avoid this, un-tape the fingers at least once daily and allow them to breathe for several minutes. You can also place a piece of gauze between the fingers to reduce pressure.
  • Skin infection: If there is an open wound or sore on the finger. buddy taping may cause an infection due to the added moisture and warmth. If you have any signs of skin infection (including pain, swelling, redness, or a pus-like discharge), call your doctor.

Recap

Finger taping can cause irritation, pressure sores, and infection, especially if the tape is left on for too long. If there are signs of an infection, call a doctor.

Summary

Buddy taping is a first aid technique used for minor finger injuries to help stabilize the finger and allow it to heal. It should not be used if there is an open wound or there are signs of a fracture or dislocation.

Buddy taping is performed with medical cloth tape, One piece of tape is wrapped between the first and second joints of the injured and adjacent fingers; another piece is wrapped around the second and third joints. If the ring finger is injured, it should be buddy taped to the pinkie finger.

Possible complications include skin irritation, pressure sores, and skin infection. Removing and reapplying the tape at least once daily helps reduce the risk and allows you to check for any signs of infection.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long should injured fingers be buddy taped?

    A sprained finger takes four to six weeks to heal. In cases like these, buddy taping should be used for around four weeks to ensure ample healing.

  • Is it better to splint or tape a sprained finger?

    For mild to moderate finger sprains, buddy tape should be sufficient. Moderate to severe sprains may need to be splinted to fully immobilize the finger. After wearing the splint for one week. buddy tape can then be used for the next three weeks.

    (Video) BUDDY TAPING for Climbing Finger Injuries - How to Tape for a Pulley Injury or Finger Tweak!
  • Can you keep playing sports if a finger is buddy taped?

    It depends. In highly competitive sports, athletes may return to a game once a minor injury is buddy taped to avoid hyperextension. But to heal properly, the injured finger should be rested for several weeks.

4 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Won SH, Lee S, Chung CY, et al. Buddy taping: is it a safe method for treatment of finger and toe injuries?. Clin Orthop Surg. 2014;6(1):26-31. doi:10.4055/cios.2014.6.1.26

  2. Jardin E, Pechin C, Rey P-B, Uhring J, Obert L. Functional treatment of metacarpal diaphyseal fractures by buddy taping: A prospective single-center study. Hand Surgery and Rehabilitation. 2016;35(1):34-39. doi:10.1016/j.hansur.2015.12.001

  3. OrthoInfo from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.Hand fractures.

  4. Elzinga KE, Chung KC. Finger injuries in football and rugby. Hand Clin. 2017;33(1):149-160. doi:10.1016%2Fj.hcl.2016.08.007

Why Injured Fingers Need to Be Taped With a Buddy (5)

By Rod Brouhard, EMT-P
Rod Brouhard is an emergency medical technician paramedic (EMT-P), journalist, educator, and advocate for emergency medical service providers and patients.

(Video) How to Buddy Tape Finger

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(Video) Sprained finger taping

FAQs

Why do you buddy tape a broken finger? ›

Buddy taping is the act of bandaging a damaged finger or toe together with a healthy one. The healthy digit acts as a splint, keeping the damaged one in a natural position for healing.

Why should I tape my fingers? ›

Finger taping is popular in grappling sports, climbing and martial arts. It is used to increase your grip strength and prevent injured figures from moving laterally. Discover WHY, and HOW athletes all over the world use SPORTTAPE FINGER TAPE to improve their performance and protect their fingers from further injury.

Does buddy taping fingers help? ›

Buddy taping is a first aid technique used for minor finger injuries to help stabilize the finger and allow it to heal. It should not be used if there is an open wound or there are signs of a fracture or dislocation.

Should you buddy tape a sprained finger? ›

Mild to moderate strains respond well to buddy taping — using first aid tape to bind the injured finger to a healthy finger next to it. Buddy taping the injured finger protects it from further injury and encourages it to straighten as it heals.

How long should you buddy tape a broken finger? ›

Keep the buddy tape in place for at least 4 weeks, or as instructed by your healthcare provider. You may use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to control pain unless another pain medicine was prescribed.

How does tape help injuries? ›

By helping to increase blood flow in the injured area, athletic tape decreases swelling which alleviates pain. The elasticity of the athletic tape can also serve as support for the affected muscles. It naturally goes back to its original position, which takes some of the workload off of the athlete's muscle.

Is buddy taping considered fracture care? ›

Some coders report buddy taping of a broken toe as fracture care every time — provided the physician is caring for a broken toe.

How do you tape your fingers for support? ›

The best way to tape is usually to rip off a thin piece and apply it to the back of the injured finger. Then, wrap the wound and overlap the tape a few times. Anchor the other end of the tape to the joint below the wound to prevent it from falling off immediately.

Does taping fingers help arthritis? ›

Whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, taping your hand can help reduce pain and swelling. Hands, especially fingers, can be a source of pain with arthritis. Whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, taping your hand can help reduce pain and swelling.

How often do you change buddy tape? ›

Have the patient change the tape and gauze every 2 days. as needed.

How tight should finger splints be? ›

Your splint should be snug enough to hold your finger in a straight position so that it does not droop. But it should not be so tight that it cuts off blood flow. You should keep your splint on unless your doctor tells you that you can take it off.

How do you tape an injured finger? ›

Buddy Taping
  1. Find some tape to apply to the fingers. ...
  2. Cut the tape so that it will wrap around the fingers approximately 1.5 times. ...
  3. Tape above and below the injured finger joint and one of the neighboring fingers.
13 Jul 2020

How long should you keep your finger wrapped? ›

Keep the injured hand elevated as much as possible during the first 2 days to reduce swelling and pain. Keep the bandage clean and dry. If the dressing stays on longer than 2 days, it will stick to the wound. Unless, you have a doctor appointment in 2 days, change the bandage as described below.

How do you buddy wrap a sprained finger? ›

Finger buddy taping
  1. Apply two strips of 1.25 cm ( half an inch) white non-stretch tape – one above the injured joint and one below. ...
  2. Then place the strip of padded foam between the fingers.
  3. Apply two supporting strips from the two anchors above and below the joint around the 'buddy' finger.
12 Oct 2022

How do you buddy tape a sprained ring finger? ›

Buddy Taping for finger injuries - YouTube

Can you move a fractured finger? ›

You may still be able to move your finger even though it's broken. But moving it will usually cause pain. Sometimes the pain will be dull and not too much for you to bear. You should still see a provider even if you can tolerate the pain.

When can I bend my broken finger? ›

A broken finger or thumb usually heals within 6 to 8 weeks, but it can take longer. It may be 3 to 4 months before full strength returns to your hand. Once it's healed, use your finger or thumb as normal. Moving it will stop it getting stiff.

How long do finger fractures hurt? ›

Breaks in the bones of the finger usually heal well in about 3 to 4 weeks. The pain and swelling from a broken finger can last for weeks. But it should steadily improve, starting a few days after you break it.

What is the purpose of taping and wrapping? ›

Providing compression to minimize swelling in the initial management of injury. Reducing the chances of injury by applying tape prophylactically (for prevention) before an injury occurs. Providing additional stability to an injured structure.

What is tape used for? ›

Adhesive tapes is a combination of a material and an adhesive film and used to bond or join objects together instead of using fasteners, screws, or welding.

How do you tape an injury? ›

How To Properly Tape An Ankle - YouTube

How do you tell if finger is broken or sprained? ›

How do you tell if your finger is broken?
  1. Swelling that lasts for several days.
  2. Swelling that may extend to other parts of the hand.
  3. Bruising around the injured area.
  4. Extremely sharp pain.
  5. Limited range of motion of the finger.
  6. The finger looks misshapen or deformed.
  7. Stiffness.
  8. Burning or tingling.
15 Apr 2018

How do you tell if finger is broken or just bruised? ›

What Are Some Common Symptoms of a Broken Finger?
  1. Your affected finger is bent into a strange or unnatural position.
  2. There's excessive swelling in one localized area.
  3. There's significant tenderness and bruising in one localized area.
  4. Your pain is exceptionally severe.
  5. You're finding it difficult to move the affected finger.
5 Apr 2021

How do you wrap a broken finger with a splint? ›

How to Tape an Injured Finger - YouTube

When should you buddy tape your fingers? ›

Buddy taping can be used for minor finger and toe injuries such as sprains or strains. You shouldn't use it if there are any obvious deformities from the injury, such as a bone at an odd angle. Seek medical attention if you have any open wounds that could require stitches, bones visibly out of place, or severe pain.

Can you climb with taped fingers? ›

Taping also decreases the sensitivity of that skin, which is good when it comes to decreasing pain while still being able to climb. Taping your fingers for skin injuries not only provides skin protection, but it also protects any loose skin from falling off so that your body can heal that part of the skin easier.

How do you buddy tape a small finger? ›

How to Buddy Tape Finger - YouTube

Can anything be done for osteoarthritis in fingers? ›

There is no cure, but healthy lifestyle habits and treatments can help manage your symptoms and keep you active. Non-Drug Treatments: Reducing strain on joints with a splint or brace, adapting hand movements, doing hand exercises or using hot or cold therapy can help to ease pain.

What are the 4 stages of osteoarthritis in the hands? ›

Stage 1 (early or doubtful) Stage 2 (mild or minimal) Stage 3 (moderate) Stage 4 (severe)

What is the best treatment for osteoarthritis of the hands? ›

Hand Osteoarthritis Treatment
  • Painkiller pills. Acetaminophen and NSAIDs like ibuprofen can ease pain.
  • Immobilizing devices. A splint, brace, or sleeve can hold your hand in a stable position to lessen pain.
  • Hand therapy. ...
  • Cortisone shots.
26 Apr 2022

Can you buddy tape a broken finger? ›

Don't buddy tape any digits that have open wounds, cuts, or broken skin. Taping injured skin has the potential to cause infections. Skin necrosis, or the death of tissue, is also possible.

Is buddy taping considered fracture care? ›

Some coders report buddy taping of a broken toe as fracture care every time — provided the physician is caring for a broken toe.

How long does it take for a broken finger to heal without a cast? ›

A broken finger or thumb usually heals within 6 to 8 weeks, but it can take longer. It may be 3 to 4 months before full strength returns to your hand. Once it's healed, use your finger or thumb as normal. Moving it will stop it getting stiff.

Should you strap a broken finger? ›

Make a splint to immobilize your finger even if that means putting a popsicle stick or pen next to it and wrapping something around the stick and your finger. Don't wrap so tight you cut off circulation. Apply ice to the injured finger as you head to an emergency department.

How often do you change buddy tape? ›

Have the patient change the tape and gauze every 2 days. as needed.

How tight should finger splints be? ›

Your splint should be snug enough to hold your finger in a straight position so that it does not droop. But it should not be so tight that it cuts off blood flow. You should keep your splint on unless your doctor tells you that you can take it off.

How do you tape a finger joint? ›

Finger Taping | How to Tape Your Sprained Finger - YouTube

How do you tell if finger is broken or sprained? ›

How do you tell if your finger is broken?
  1. Swelling that lasts for several days.
  2. Swelling that may extend to other parts of the hand.
  3. Bruising around the injured area.
  4. Extremely sharp pain.
  5. Limited range of motion of the finger.
  6. The finger looks misshapen or deformed.
  7. Stiffness.
  8. Burning or tingling.
15 Apr 2018

How do you tell if finger is broken or just bruised? ›

What Are Some Common Symptoms of a Broken Finger?
  1. Your affected finger is bent into a strange or unnatural position.
  2. There's excessive swelling in one localized area.
  3. There's significant tenderness and bruising in one localized area.
  4. Your pain is exceptionally severe.
  5. You're finding it difficult to move the affected finger.
5 Apr 2021

How do you strap a finger with ligament damage? ›

Locate some medical tape to secure the splint to the injured finger. Place the stick against the entire finger (especially across the sprained joint) and secure it with 2 to 3 strips of tape. Typically placement on the palm side is recommended but it's ultimately up to you.

Can a fractured finger heal in 3 weeks? ›

Breaks in the bones of the finger usually heal well in about 3 to 4 weeks. The pain and swelling from a broken finger can last for weeks. But it should steadily improve, starting a few days after you break it.

Should you sleep with a finger splint on? ›

The splint is taped on and must be worn day and night for 6 to 8 weeks to allow the 2 ends of the torn tendon to stay together and heal.

Can a fractured finger heal itself? ›

The physicians at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists treat finger injuries on a regular basis, and many will heal on their own. However, it's important to know the difference between pain from a temporary jam and a potential fracture that needs immediate medical attention, or even surgery.

Can you move a fractured finger? ›

You may still be able to move your finger even though it's broken. But moving it will usually cause pain. Sometimes the pain will be dull and not too much for you to bear. You should still see a provider even if you can tolerate the pain.

How is a hairline fracture of the finger treated? ›

For a small bone like a finger or toe, the fracture can be immobilized by wrapping it with a soft wrap or a splint. The injured bone may have to be realigned into its natural position before it's immobilized with a cast or splint. The realignment may be done without surgery, and is called closed reduction.

What does a broken finger joint feel like? ›

Swelling, Stiffness, and Bruising.

Typically within five to ten minutes, you'll experience swelling of your finger. You may also experience stiffness in the joint as you try to bend it, depending on the intensity of the fracture.

Videos

1. Finger Splint/Buddy Tape
(Aaron Tomlinson)
2. How to Buddy Tape Fingers
(wikiHow)
3. Taping is the BEST Way to Prevent Finger Injuries | Climbing Myths
(Hooper's Beta)
4. Anthony Davis INJURY | Doctor Explains Finger Sprain
(Brian Sutterer MD)
5. Jammed and Sprained Finger Treatment (A Quick and Easy Alternative to Buddy Taping
(BraceAbility)
6. How to Buddy Tape Fingers
(Guidecentral English)

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