Patient should understand that it is very important to see the specialist as soon as possible after hand/wrist injuries.
Early and competent treatment predictably leads to straight forward recovery and excellent long term outcome. Hand is a delicate organ with compact anatomy and with very little space, if any, not containing functionally important structures. Many lacerations, even trivial and shallow ones, can be associated with damage of the underlying nerves, tendons and joints which lie relatively superficially in the hand.
You should see a hand surgeon as soon as possible if you sustained any of the following:
- Glass/knife lacerations (cut) and you are unable to extend or bend your fingers or the wrist - tendons might have been damaged and early repair is essential as well as adequate hand therapy thereafter.
- Cut anywhere in the hand associated with numbness and/or reduced sensation in the nearby area – nerves likely to have been cut and early repair is crucial.
- Stretched/pulled/sprained one of the fingers awkwardly and noticed swelling and stiffnessaround the joint – ligaments around the joint can easily be torn, partially or completely; if untreated adequately and early long term deformities likely to develop. Most treatment would only require specific physiotherapy and/or splint.
- If you had fallen forcibly onto your wrist/hand (i.e. transmitting the whole body weight through the hand); likely to sustain significant ligament injury or fracture; these must be treated immediately.
- Blunt trauma/falls to the hand – hand fractures are common and usually associated with pain, swelling and bruising; sometimes however, fractures can be “silent”, so bent or shortened fingers should be investigated after accidents.
- Redness and swelling which can indicate deep infection/inflammation.