What is buddy taping?
Buddy Taping refers to the process of wrapping an injured finger or toe together with a healthy one. For fingers, the uninjured digit serves as a splint to protect and keep the injured finger aligned in a natural position. 
As a result, the affected finger is unable to twist or move laterally, which reduces inflammation and decreases the risk of further injury.  T
his immobilization method is especially useful for treating sprains and other mild injuries to the fingers or toes, especially when it involves the fifth metacarpal.
When to buddy tape?
Buddy taping is a convenient method for treating minor finger injuries, like a mild sprain or sprain. Before buddy taping, the finger should be examined closely for any cuts, open wounds, deformities, inflammation, or areas of sensitivity and pain.
If there is no obvious cause for concern, buddy taping can be used to immobilize the injured finger and prevent further aggravation.
However, if the finger presents any deformity or has the potential to be seriously injured, individuals should consult a medical professional.
Taping broken skin can lead to complications and cause more harm than good. 
How to buddy tape
You should always aim to tape your injured finger to an adjacent healthy finger. An injured index finger should be taped to the middle finger and an injured pinky should be taped to the ring finger.
If either the middle or ring finger is injured, you may need to experiment with the tape to figure which two taped fingers are most comfortable for you.
For example, taping your injured ring finger to your middle finger may be convenient as they are around the same length, but taping it to the pinky could give your hand more overall mobility. 
To buddy tape a finger:
Step 1: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap or clean the affected area using an antiseptic wipe. Make sure your hands are completely dry. 
Step 2: Place soft, sterile padding between the injured finger and an adjacent healthy one. This can either be a cotton pad, gauze, or piece of foam.
This padding will prevent any maceration and skin irritation between the fingers. 
Step 3: Keeping sufficient tension, circle a piece of tape around the two fingers, between the knuckle and the first joint. You may want to wrap the tape around two or three times for maximum stabilization.
Ideally, the tape would be as wide as possible, while still being able to fit between the joints without covering them.
Step 4: With a second piece of tape, circle the two fingers between the first and second joints. You may also wrap this piece of tape around two or three times.
Smooth over the ends of the tape to ensure they do not come undone.
How do you know if your tape is applied correctly?
After buddy taping your fingers, you should check for two things: the tightness and placement of the tape.
Ideally, you should use gentle pressure when wrapping the tape to make sure your fingers have good circulation. To check for this, press the tips of your fingers for a few seconds and then release them.
If they stay pale after a few moments, this may be an indication that the tape was wrapped too tightly. 
Other signs of constriction include swelling, discoloration, numbing, or pain. If this is the case, then you should remove the tape immediately and restart.
To check that your tape was positioned properly, make sure that your taped fingers bend normally and that your hand has functional mobility.  If not, you may want to redo the taping.
How long should I buddy tape a sprained finger?
Buddy taping is a safe and simple at-home treatment for mild finger injuries and sprains. Typically, pain and discomfort should improve within several days of buddy taping.
However, if your symptoms do not consistently improve over the first few days, it is highly recommended that you see a doctor. There is a possibility that your injury is more serious and requires medical treatment.
How should I tape if my fingers are different lengths?
While it may be more difficult to tape two fingers of different lengths together, it is certainly possible. You can either adjust the angle of your tape or you can cut the tape to have a narrower width. 
Both of these options will make it easier to wrap your fingers between their joints. Alternatively, you can tape these two fingers without adjusting the angle or width and accept that the fingers will temporarily have a restricted range of motion and mobility.
However, this is not recommended as it could contribute to limited joint motion in the future.
Does the width of the tape matter?
The width of the tape can make a big difference in both comfort and mobility. The pieces of tape should be as wide as possible as this will provide more stability and comfort to the injured fingered.
However, the tape should also be narrow enough to avoid interfering with joint motion.  Ideally, the taped fingers will be able to bend without putting tension on the tape.
What tape is best for Buddy Taping?
Ideally, the tape should be both rigid enough to keep the fingers immobilized and flexible enough to wrap around your foot. Typically, buddy taping is done with paper plaster tape or self-adherent wrap, such as zinc oxide tape (“white athletic tape”) or cotton medical cloth.
Some doctors prefer medical cloth tape because it can be easily torn or cut , whereas other physicians recommend adhesive-free Velcro bands because they do not cause skin irritation. 
However, in general, the tape should be durable, flexible, and lie comfortably on the skin.
Usually, buddy taping goes without incident. However, some problems can arise when the fingers are taped incorrectly or for too long.
The most common complications include necrosis of the skin between the injured and healthy fingers, and skin infections near the adhesive tape area. These skin issues occur most frequently when patients do not use padding between their fingers.
Other possible complications can include the displacement of fractures due to diminished tape adhesive and “limited joint motion in either the injured or healthy fingers. 
How do I prevent these complications?
Many of these complications can be avoided with several simple practices. First, to prevent skin irritations and infections, individuals should change the padding and tape watch for discoloration, swelling, and irritation.
To avoid problems relating to loss of fixation, you should use tape that is durable, flexible, and sufficiently adhesive.
Also, to reduce the likelihood of limited joint motion after treatment, you should check for normal blood circulation in the taped fingers. 
How long will it take to recover?
Usually, mild finger injuries will be completely healed within a window of two to six weeks.
To accelerate the recovery process, individuals should also consider other non-invasive treatments, such as the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, and modified activity.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your injury, you should speak with a trained medical professional. 
Is Buddy taping necessary?
No, buddy taping is not technically necessary; however, it is a convenient and inexpensive treatment that could help to accelerate the recovery process.
By attaching the injured finger to a healthy one, you are allowing it to heal in the correct position and protecting it from further injury.  If buddy taping is applied correctly, it should only help the healing process.
1. Won, Sung Hun, et al. “Buddy Taping: Is It a Safe Method for Treatment of Finger and Toe Injuries?” Clinics in Orthopedic Surgery, The Korean Orthopaedic Association, Mar. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3942599/.
2. Brouhard, Rod. “How to Buddy Tape a Finger.” Verywell Health, 5 Nov. 2019, www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-buddy-tape-a-finger-1298212.
3. Cronkleton, Emily. “Buddy Tape: How to Treat a Finger or Toe Injury – Healthline.” Healthline, 16 Jan. 2019, www.healthline.com/health/buddy-tape.
4. “The Easy Guide to Buddy Taping.” Physical Sports First Aid, 13 June 2014, blog.physical-sports.co.uk/2014/06/13/the-easy-guide-to-buddy-taping/.
Elizabeth Miclau is an undergraduate at Harvard College, planning to pursue a concentration in life sciences or sociology. As a member of both Puerto Rico’s National Diving Team and Harvard’s Women’s Varsity Swimming and Diving Team, she has a strong background in elite athletics. In the past year, she has contributed to several journal publications and peer-review-funded research projects.