Emergency treatment of hand injuries

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:49 pm
No other part of the human body requires more daily demands or encounters the potential for injury than your hands, which are essential for protection, balance, and prevention of serious falls. Hand injuries account for almost 10 percent of emergency room visits and 15 to 20 percent of all industrial injuries. The key to preventing long-term functional disability is early recognition of an injury, combined with proper intervention. Placing direct pressure on the injured area can treat minor lacerations, which make up the largest number of hand injuries. Deeper lacerations or any wound that is imbedded with dirt or foreign bodies, such as glass or metal fragments, may require immediate emergency treatment. Large foreign bodies shouldn't be removed due to potential blood loss and further tissue and nerve damage. A doctor will thoroughly clean your wounds and may suggest an X-ray to ensure there are no broken bones. If you sustain larger lacerations, they will be sutured (sue-CHURD). Puncture wounds, such as dog or human bites, may require a tetanus (tet-AH-nus) shot and antibiotics to prevent infection. Signs and symptoms of infection may include pain, redness, swelling, pus, or fever. Amputations are managed by placing the amputated part in plastic, which is then placed on ice and transported with you to the emergency room. In the case of a bone fracture to your fingers or hand, place splints on the injured area and elevate the hand to prevent swelling. Thumb sprains, tendinitis, and jammed fingers are also common hand injuries.
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