So your finger hurts. Most likely you have one of these injuries:
1. Acute injury.
Caused when tissue breaks! Muscles ripping, tendons rupturing, bones splintering, joints dislocating. Though I have seen fingers break under the torque load of a finger jam, it is not common. More often it is either a pulley or the tendon attachment of one of the small muscles in the palm (interossie and lumbrical muscles).
2. Chronic injury.
This is when tissue breaks down over time. Tenderness on the front or slightly to the side of the meaty bits of the finger, especially at the A2 pulley, is very common and strongly suggests chronic overload of the underlying pulley. As a general rule, if it is only sore to touch you are good to keep going at a moderately reduced intensity. If it is becoming sore to use the finger it is time to really back it up and have a close look at your training regime. Slow onset pain and swelling around the PIP (middle) joint of the finger, mostly in kids, is a stress fracture until proven otherwise.
3. What was the hold?
Often the hold that caused the injury is a strong indicator of what you may have damaged. Oddly shaped crimp configurations typically produce pulley tears and will be accompanied by a snapping noise. Pockets, due to some fingers being drawn into the palm while the loaded one are not, can tear small tendon attachments in the palm or tendon junctions in the forearm.
Feature image by Boone Speed
This article appeared in Rock and Ice 239