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Hand Injuries (cont.)

Hand Injury Symptoms

The symptoms of hand injuries can vary depending on the type of injury, how the injury occurred (mechanism), depth, severity, and location.

Common symptoms of hand injuries

Lacerations

  • Tenderness (pain)
  • Bleeding
  • Numbness
  • Decrease range of motion (difficulty moving)
  • Weakness
  • Pallor (pale or bloodless)

Fractures and dislocations

  • Tenderness
  • Deformity
  • Swelling and discoloration
  • Decrease range of motion
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Bleeding

Soft tissue injuries and amputations

  • Tenderness
  • Deformity (with or without tissue and bone loss)
  • Swelling and discoloration
  • Bleeding
  • Weakness
  • Numbness

Infections

  • Tenderness
  • Local warmth
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Fever (rare in hand infections)
  • Deformity
  • Decrease range of motion

Burns

  • Tenderness or complete numbness
  • Deformity
  • Discoloration
  • Loss of tissue
  • Change in texture of skin
  • Redness
  • Blistering
  • Black areas of tissue

High pressure injuries

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Occasional skin discoloration

When to Seek Medical Care for Hand Injury

Anyone with a hand injury should consider calling a doctor or seek medical attention. The potential for devastating injuries increases greatly when medical attention is delayed. Even the smallest cut or seemingly innocent hand injury could require advanced treatment to prevent infection or significant loss of function.

Any cut or laceration, which may require stitches to repair, warrants a medical evaluation. If a person is in doubt about whether the cut they have needs stitches, they should call the doctor for guidance.

Minor burns do not require immediate medical evaluation; however, call a health care professional if there is any doubt.

Injuries to the hand causing the following symptoms generally require emergency medical attention at a hospital's emergency department.

  • Severe bleeding
  • Numbness
  • Loss of motion or strength
  • Severe pain
  • Obvious deformity or amputation
  • Any of the signs of infection, such as tenderness, local warmth, redness, swelling, pus, or fever
  • Exposure of underlying structures, such as tendons, bones, joints, arteries, veins, or nerves

Seek emergency medical care in these situations:

  • Fractures, dislocations, high pressure injuries, and amputations require immediate care.
  • Any deep, gaping (open), or dirty cut requires prompt medical care.
  • Wounds due to an animal or human bite (including lacerations from striking a tooth during an assault), because a rapidly progressing infection may occur.
  • Burns: if the skin is disrupted or if the burn goes completely around a finger, hand, or wrist, seek immediate medical care.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/1/2016
Medical Author:

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