i smacked my hand against a wall and now my ring finger is bruised and swollen, there is pain, but it's tolerable and the middle joint is tender. what did i do to it, my mom says not to worry but every post i read about finger problems says other wise?
Unfortunately, the only way to determine if a bone is broken, is to have it x-rayed. But, even if the bone is not broken, significant soft tissue injures can cause a lot of problems with finger function down the road.
A direct blow to the hand, usually causes a contusion. It is possible to chip something that way. But, the significant soft tissue injuries are usually caused from twisting or dislocation of the joint. If one of these structures has been damaged, then specialized treatment needs to be done. And, splinting the finger in the wrong position can cause permanent problems.
A thorough hand exam can tell exactly what has been damaged, but it usually takes a hand surgeon to do one.
Again, just smacking the hand may have chipped a bone, but unless you dislocated the proximal interphalangeal joint (PIPJ), the middle knuckle, it is probably just a contusion.
If you think you have damaged the collateral ligaments, the volar plate, or the central slip, you should be seen by a hand surgeon. If you think you actually broke one of the phalanges (the bones of the fingers), and it is now unstable or rotated, again, you would have to see a hand surgeon.
If it is just a contusion, then the most important thing is to not lose motion. Knuckles will stay swollen for a LONG time (months). The best thing to do is buddy tape the finger to the one next to it. The good finger will act as a splint, but will also help to bend and straighten the finger (range of motion). Just don't put the tape on so tight that it cuts off the circulation to the fingers.
You should ice the finger to help with the swelling. If you can take nonsteroidal antiinflamatory medicine, like motrin, that will also help with the swelling.
So, if the finger does not seem to be getting better in several days, you may need to have the finger examined by a hand surgeon, and probably get some x-rays.