A mutilating hand injury is severe damage to the hand. It will make it hard or impossible to use the hand. The injury may include damage to bones, tendons, soft tissues, nerves, and skin. It can become a life-threatening condition.
If you have this type of injury, call for medical help right away. Immediate care may result in a better repair. It can also decrease the chance of further damage. Serious infections and long term disability can develop without care.
Factors that may increase your chance of injury include:
- Job that requires use of dangerous machinery
- Removing safety guards from machinery, such as power saws or wood chippers
- Short-cuts and improper technique while using machinery
- Not shutting power to tool when using hands to remove clogged grass from lawn mowers or snow from snow blowers
- Operating machinery or vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs
The doctor will quickly assess the injury. The wound will be checked. Nerves and tendons of the hand will be tested.
Image tests will show more detail of the damage. They can show damage to the bones, nerves, tendons, and skin. Tests may include:
- CT scan
Anesthesia may be given. It will block pain so that the doctor can examine the wound more closely.
Immediate care will stop any bleeding. An IV will be started to give fluids and pain medicine. A hand specialist may be needed. Other steps may include:
Bacteria on the skin can enter the body through damaged skin. This can lead to a serious infection called tetanus. If you have not had a recent tetanus vaccination, you may be given one. It will help your body find and attack the bacteria.
Medicine may help in the following ways:
- Pain medicine—to help during recovery
- Anesthesia—to block pain during medical care
- Antibiotics—to prevent an infection
The wound will be flushed out with water. It will help to remove any debris that may be trapped in the wounds. This will help to prevent infection.
Immediate surgery may be needed. Less severe injury will be dressed and splinted. A surgical plan can be made later.
The goal of surgery is to repair as much damage as possible. It may be able to save some function in the hand. Several surgeries are often needed for this type of injury.
Rehab can help to regain movement in the hand. It can also help to make changes if there are some limits to hand movement. Rehab may include:
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Hand Trauma; Hand Injury)
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