Smashed fingers

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Definition

Smashed fingers is an injury involving trauma to one or more fingers.

Alternative Names

Finger(s) - smashed; Crushed digits

Considerations

If an injury to a finger occurs at the tip and does not involve the joint or nail bed, you may not need the help of a health care provider. If the tip of your finger bone is broken, your provider may not recommend a splint.

If the injury is more toward the palm or involves the joint, seek medical help right away.

Causes

Finger(s) can be smashed by a hammer blow, car door, desk drawer, baseball, or some other force.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Difficulty moving the tip of the finger
  • Discoloration or bruising of the finger or fingernail
  • Finger pain
  • Loss of fingernail
  • Swelling

First Aid

Apply an ice pack to decrease swelling. Over-the-counter pain medicines may help relieve discomfort.

If pain becomes severe, with blood under the fingernail, call your provider. Your provider may guide you in taking measures to relieve the pressure and prevent the fingernail from falling off.

Do Not

  • Do not splint a smashed finger without first consulting your provider.
  • Do not drain blood from under the fingernail unless your provider instructs you to do so.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Seek medical attention right away if the finger is bent and you can't straighten it, or if the injury involves more than the tip of the finger.

Prevention

Teach safety to young children. Use caution when shutting doors to make sure fingers are not in danger.

References

Brunton LM, Graham TJ, Atkinson RE. Hand injuries. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 77.

Nelson SW, Gibbs MA. Hand and wrist injuries. In: Adam JG, ed. Emergency Medicine: Clinical Essentials. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 89.

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 5/9/2015
  • C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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