I’m Ed Smith, a West Sacramento personal injury lawyer. Fingertip injuries can occur in many variations and levels of severity and can include torn tissue, sharp cuts, crushed bone, or even amputation. Fingertip injuries often occur in car accidents because people naturally use their hands as a shield against facial injury.
First Things First
In case of a fingertip injury, immediate first aid is critical. Clean the wound if you are able to, and cover it with a sterile bandage or splint the hand and wrist to immobilize the finger. Try to minimize bleeding if you can. Elevating the hand will minimize swelling. If you have a completely amputated fingertip, clean it with water or saline solution, moisten a gauze bandage and place the finger in the moistened gauze and in a sealed bag. If possible, place the bag on ice, but be sure that the amputated part is not placed directly on the ice because it can burn the tissue and cause further damage. Bring the amputated finger with you to the emergency room.
The Doctor Will Ask…
When you see the doctor, describe how your finger was injured and let the doctor know about any medical conditions you might have, particularly if you’ve injured that hand previously or if you are a smoker or have diabetes, both of which could affect healing. The doctor will also want to know if you are left- or right-handed and if you have a current tetanus shot.
For treatment, the doctor will numb the area with a local anesthetic to immediately alleviate your pain, then wash the wound thoroughly to remove all debris like foreign objects or tissue, a procedure called debridement. Your doctor will likely order an x-ray to check for broken finger bones, and will check to ensure that you don’t have bleeding under your fingernail; if you do, the doctor may pierce the nail to relieve the pressure caused by the underlying blood. If you haven’t had a tetanus shot in a while, or can’t remember, your doctor will likely give you another one and may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection.
If a cut is not too deep, it may heal on its own, but if you have significant tissue injury, exposed bone, or complete amputation, the doctor will likely perform a surgical repair to ensure normal function and normal appearance. Your doctor may use a skin graft taken from another part of your body, or may need to shorten your bone so that the wound can be stitched closed with the remaining skin near the injury. Replantation, or reattaching the amputated finger, will be considered; it is a very complicated procedure that involves reattaching blood vessels. In children younger than age 6, replantation works much better and the fingertip continues to grow normally.
Going Home After Fingertip Amputations
You will likely have to wear a splint and a very bulky dressing to fully protect the hand. Wounds typically heal in a few weeks while the new blood supply is established. Replantation recovery, however, takes much longer. The biggest risks are infection and poor wound healing.
Fingertips are embedded with delicate nerves and repair of injuries is a delicate procedure that requires prompt treatment to avoid permanent damage and loss of function.
West Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a West Sacramento personal injury lawyer. If you, or a loved one has suffered a fingertip injury, please call me at (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly advice. Elsewhere, I may be contacted toll-free at (800) 404-5400.
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