Crush Injury of the Hand, No Fracture

You have a crush injury of your hand. This causes local pain, swelling, and sometimes bruising. You don’t have any broken bones. This injury may take from a few days to a few weeks to heal.

If a fingernail has been severely injured, it may fall off in 1 to 2 weeks. A new one will usually start to grow back within a month.

Home care

Follow these guidelines when caring for yourself at home:

  • You may be given a splint to prevent movement of the injured hand.

  • Keep your hand elevated to reduce pain and swelling. When sitting or lying down keep your arm raised above the level of your heart, if possible. You can do this by placing your arm on a pillow that rests on your chest or on a pillow at your side. This is most important during the first 2 days (48 hours) after the injury.

  • Put an ice pack on the injured area. Do this for 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours the first day for pain relief. You can make an ice pack by wrapping a plastic bag of ice cubes or a bag of frozen vegetables in a thin towel. As the ice pack melts, be careful that the splint doesn’t get wet. Continue to use the ice pack 3 to 4 times a day until the pain and swelling go away. Always cover the ice pack with a towel or cloth so it never comes in direct contact with skin.

  • Use over-the-counter pain medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines. Also talk with your provider if you’ve had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding.

  • If you have a splint, keep it dry at all times. Bathe with your splint well out of the water. Protect it with a large plastic bag, rubber-banded at the top end. If a splint gets wet, you can dry it with a hair dryer on the cool setting.

  • Don’t stick a needle into the wound to drain it.

  • Bruised skin may change colors over time. It may change from reddish to bluish to yellowish before the skin goes back to normal coloring.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised, if you don’t start to get better within the next 3 days.

If X-rays were taken, you will be told of any new findings that may affect your care.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • The plaster splint becomes wet or soft

  • The plaster splint stays wet for more than 24 hours

  • Tightness or pain under the splint gets worse

  • Fingers become swollen, cold, blue, numb, or tingly

  • Redness, warmth, swelling, drainage from the wound, or foul odor coming from a splint

  • You can’t move your fingers

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider 

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