Hand injuries are a really common presentation in General Practice. They are the most common injury sustained in the workplace, and we also see many from recreational activities such as cricket and home maintenance.
Anything other than a very minor injury should be seen by a doctor who can quickly decide if any further checks or interventions are needed. Even small forces can snap delicate tendons from bones and tear fine nerves and blood vessels in hands and fingers, and a tiny puncture in the wrong place can result in severe infection. The damage is often a lot more complicated than it appears, and there is a real risk of permanent deformity and loss of function. This can lead to a lifetime of frustration, particularly if the injury involves your dominant hand.
Don’t forget bites as a significant cause of injuries – animal or human – the wound always needs a very thorough washout (sometimes in theatre) and strong antibiotics to prevent severe infection.
Sometimes very simple procedures can bring quick relief for injuries; for example, draining the blood from under the nail in a crush injury is one the most effective ways to reduce the pain and throbbing, and only takes about 10 seconds (and also your doctor probably looooves doing this).
Any kind of injury is also a good reminder to check if you are due for a tetanus booster – usually you need one every 5-10 years, your doctor will also love making sure you are fully up to date with this.
Dr Cath Hester.
These articles are not intended to replace a one-to-one relationship with a qualified health professional or as specific medical advice. They are intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from experience and research in the scientific literature. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon a partnership with a qualified health care professional.