A smashed finger is a common injury that occurs when a heavy object or an object with enough force behind it impacts the finger. Common causes include dropping an object on the finger, hitting it with a hammer, or closing a finger in a door.
A smashed finger may cause:
- pain from mild to severe
- movement difficulty
- loss of sensation in the fingertip
- bruising on the skin or bleeding under the nail
- fingernail loss
It is possible to relieve pain at home with no medical intervention, but there may be times when a smashed finger requires medical attention.
Common methods for immediate relief include:
- icing or applying ice to the area
- taking oral anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen (Advil)
- applying pain-relief creams
- cleaning and covering the injury
- moving the injured area gently
Inflammation is the body's natural response to blunt force trauma.
Inflammation causes swelling, which helps to stabilize a bone or joint to reduce the chance of further injury to the area. Treating or reducing the swelling can make the finger feel better.
Icing a smashed finger can limit the inflammation. It is crucial to never place ice directly on the skin.
Icing should be done for no more than 15 minutes and can be repeated several times a day. A person can place the finger on top of the ice pack to avoid additional pressure.
A smashed finger should not be used after the injury. People should stop the activity they were involved in and decide if further medical attention is needed.
A person may need to to avoid physical activity, such as contact sports and lifting heavy objects until the finger fully heals.
Elevation can help reduce inflammation and is often a key to recovery. Elevation helps to reduce inflammation because it slows the flow of blood to the finger.
The finger should be raised above the heart, as this elevation makes it more difficult for blood to reach the finger.
4. Anti-inflammatory medications
There are medications available over-the-counter (OTC) that can alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Many are available to buy online, including:
5. Pain-relieving creams
Creams that contain medication and natural ingredients can be used to alleviate swelling and inflammation. Many are available to buy online.
6. Clean and cover
A smashed finger may result in an open wound, such as a scrape or cut. People should clean the wound immediately when this occurs.
They should also cover the wound with a bandage and antibiotic cream if these are available.
7. Gentle movement
While some injuries require rest, other cases of smashed fingers can benefit from gentle movement. When gentle movement is undertaken, it can help reduce inflammation and prevent stiffness occurring.
If a smashed finger causes severe pain, a person should see a doctor, as they may have broken it.
Additional signs of a broken finger include:
- dislocation around the joint
- sharp pain at the site of the injury
The finger may be broken and will require immediate medical attention if any of the above occur after an injury.
Short-term treatments for a smashed finger are for the first couple of days after an injury. These should include a combination of:
- OTC medication
In most cases, an injured or smashed finger will feel better within a few days of using at-home treatments.
It is not uncommon for a bruise to develop as a smashed finger heals. The bruise is a sign of the body repairing the damage, but it may result in continued pain, discoloration of the area, aching, or numbness.
It is essential to keep moving and stretching the finger while the injury heals, and to avoid using it for lifting or grabbing things.
Gentle massage may also help the finger to recover by promoting blood flow and helping clear dead cells.
Recovery time will vary and depend on the severity of the injury. For people with a minor injury, full recovery should occur within a few days to a week. Severe cases or broken fingers may take several weeks to recover fully.
Injuries on or near the fingernail may cause bleeding under the nail, which resembles bruising.
Bleeding under the fingernail will cause pressure under the nail, which can eventually cause it to fall off.
In cases where most of the nail is affected, a doctor may be able to prevent the fingernail from falling off by draining the blood from the bruise to alleviate the pressure.
People should seek medical attention if a smashed finger causes severe pain. It is a good idea to speak with a doctor to ensure no further damage was done to a joint if more than just the fingertip is involved in the injury.
Other reasons to seek medical attention for a smashed finger include:
- severe swelling for more than 2 days
- deep wound
- the finger will not bend
- the entire finger, hand, or wrist is also injured
- the finger is disfigured
- the nail might fall off
- symptoms worsen over time
- finger feels numb
- a crack was heard at the time of injury
A smashed finger is a common but painful injury. Most people will find that simple at-home treatments will help relieve immediate pain and promote long-term healing.
In some cases, a person may need to see a doctor if the pain is severe, the symptoms are not improving, or there is a noticeable break.