If They Could Make A Fist Then It’s Not Broken

It happens constantly. Your child is running she then trips and falls on her hand and now she’s holding her hand crying. Or your kids are fighting and slamming doors on each other when one of them screams out in agony. You come running “What happened? What happened? Are you ok? Let me see your hand. Let me see it” And of course a child knowing never to trust an adult looking at their hand will protect it even more. Its as if we are going to grab it and cause them more pain.

No matter how many times you demand to see your child’s hand they will simply not let you.

One thing I learnt over the years teaching First Aid is that if a child broke his or her finger it will hurt like hell and they wont be able to move it which means that I they could move it then its probably not broken. Simply ask your son or daughter to make a fist. If they can do it then chances are there are no broken fingers. This works almost all the time for me when dealing with my kids. They have no idea that your really checking their hand. Once you see that they could make a fist you could get up and say “Your fine” and walk away.

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14 Responses

  1. Gregg Miller says:

    Good general advice but don’t count on it.

    During the night last Thursday we were wakened by screaming. When I check on my five year old she stated that she had fallen out of bed. We put her back to bed but less than an hour later she was up say her fingers hurt. She would not let us exam an her hand. We notice very slight swelling in the forefinger. So we gave her a cold pack and Motrin and pusher back to bed in the morning we examined her again. She could wiggle her fingers and make a fist so we sent her to school. Later that morning her school Nurse calls that the hand had starting swelling. X- Rays showed fractures through the growth plate at the base of the 2nd and third metacarpals (The bones that connect the fingers to the wrist). Even if the hand appears to have movement there may still be a hider break. Watch for pain that prelist of worsens, Swelling, weakness of grasp; numbness, resistance to use hand or a usually dark purple bruise which may take a couple of days to be visible.

  2. Eric says:

    Hi Gregg. First, thank you for commenting. Sorry for not responding sooner. We were away on vacation.

    In the case you mentioned with your daughter the fracture was in the area of the hand. Since I never heard of the metacarpals before I decided to research it. According to the information you posted above and what I have read online the point of injury is located closer to the wrist than the fingers (“base of the 2nd and third metacarpals”). In this case the information in my post above would not apply. My post was specifically for injuries to the fingers and not the hand. If a child broke his or her finger then they would not be able to bend it.

    But your comment did come in handy as it reminded me that a child has a greater chance of sustaining a fracture falling off their bed than falling down the stairs.

  3. Andrea says:

    Totally NOT true. My daughter broke her finger yesterday, and she COULD still make a fist!

  4. Concerned Father says:

    The fact that You never heard of the MetaCarpals, tells me all I need to know about then validity of the extent of your knowledge and advice. It’s like talking about trying to fix a car without knowing what a steering wheel is. It’s the basics. And Yes, if Your child can bend their fingers, they very likely can have a complete fracture (that means broken completely through) Without details, the information You gave was 98% useless. You have to feel the finger, the joints, etc.. Thanks for wasting my time in not only having to read this from a search engine, but from also wasting my time as in writing this comment. I’d hate to have a parent actually take this serious and their child suffer because of it.

  5. Maxine Dunne says:


  6. Dee says:

    The most useless post possibly ever written in the history of the internet.

  7. WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching
    for first aid/cpr

  8. Espi says:

    I’ve worked with a pediatric ortho Dr and just because you can move the finger/hand doesn’t mean it isn’t broken. You can actually make it worse by doing that.

  9. None says:

    I just have to say that I truly feel my time was wasted at reading ALL of this. I wanted info to judge the severity of my child’s injury. A n d…… I will go elsewhere. W O W.!

  10. None says:

    Espi being the only exception.

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