What to Do if You Sustain a Severe Cut to Your Hand

Cut hand

It will come as no surprise that the most commonly reported injuries happen to our hands. We’ve been interacting with the world with them for as long as we can remember, so it’s easy to forget just how much we rely upon them until their use is taken from us for one reason or another.

Our bodies run with the special kind of smoothness that’s only noticed when things go awry. Up until the moment our dexterity is taken from us, the degree of freedom we’re afforded often goes underappreciated. Sustaining any kind of damage to our hands is traumatic, and without expert help, the injury may cause permanent debilitation.

There are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with a badly cut hand. Read on to find out more!

Addressing Severity

We’ve all cut ourselves by mistake through lack of attention or care. It’s an easy thing to do, knives can slip while we’re cutting vegetables or opening a cardboard box at the drop of a hat. The damage sustained from a moment’s lapse in concentration can vary considerably.

Applying a plaster to a nicked thumb is getting off lightly. Dangerous tools such as knives and other sharp objects soon lose their air of danger as we become accustomed to their use. It’s easy to be complacent when we’ve used our favorite paring knife for the thousandth time without incident.

Losing respect for the dangerous tools at our disposal is commonplace. We’re often only reminded of the potential for disaster when we sustain a painful reminder. Sometimes we get off easy, other times we’re faced with the stomach-turning reality of permanent damage.

Deep Cuts and Lacerations

If you’ve sustained a cut to your hand deep enough to rupture any of the internal workings, seek medical help immediately. If this sounds obvious to you, it might surprise you to learn that people will often avoid a trip to the hospital at all costs. This kind of reluctance to visit the emergency room is compounded by the embarrassment of sustaining a self-inflicted injury, or a general fear of hospitals in general.

Damage to your hand should always be viewed with the utmost severity. No matter if you’re a concert pianist or an administrative worker, we all rely upon the use of our hands for practically everything. Getting your injury looked over by a professional as quickly as possible is of paramount importance.

Time is of the essence. Our bodies are incredible machines capable of healing even the most severe of injuries, but not without proper care. If a tendon or artery is severed, there’s a lot of work to be done before the healing process can begin.

Ruptured Veins or Arteries

Our circulatory system is an incredibly complex series of pathways that branch and spread throughout our entire body, supplying energy and oxygen to our cells. They also serve to remove the by-products of these processes so that they don’t build up, allowing everything to run smoothly. If a large vein or artery is punctured or otherwise lacerated, it won’t heal on its own without surgical intervention.

Not only that, you’re in danger of severe blood loss if the wound isn’t staunched in a timely fashion. If you lose enough blood, the use of your hand is the least of your problems. To put it simply, your life is in danger if you continue to lose blood without seeking medical attention. If you suspect the wound is deep enough to have done circulatory damage, don’t think twice about calling an ambulance.

Cuts to veins and arteries will produce a lot of blood but will leave your dexterity largely unaffected. Apply a towel or other thick fabric to the wound with as much pressure as you can bear until help arrives. This will slow the flow of blood until professional help can proceed as necessary.

Damage to Ligaments and Tendons

Ligaments are what keep your bones attached and everything securely in place. Tendons are what our muscles pull on to generate force to move our limbs and fingers. These are both incredibly strong and hard-wearing, having evolved to weather near constant daily use.

Severing or partially severing a ligament or tendon is as serious as it sounds. There is no hope for the damage to heal over time, as the ends are under constant tension, even when you’re relaxed. This means the severed ends retract from each other, leaving no chance for them to reattach without invasive surgical procedures.

Diagnosing this type of damage isn’t difficult, you’ll experience an immediate loss of control. Damage to your extensor or flexor tendons will result in the complete inability to straighten or bend your affected fingers. Severe pain and inflammation are sure to follow, so seek medical attention immediately.

Nerve Damage From a Cut Hand

Similar to our circulatory system, we have an amazingly complex relay of nerves running throughout our bodies. These are the pathways that carry signals to and from our extremities. There are two distinct types of nerve, both of which can be damaged by an errant blade.

Sensory nerves are what enable us to feel the sensations of touch, pain, temperature, and pressure. This type of nerve damage will render your hand numb to all stimuli and will be immediately obvious.

Motor nerve damage severs the connection between your intention and your muscles. Any attempt to move your hand or fingers will be met with a drastically lower range of motion or potentially none at all. A wound that severs either of these nerves is cause for serious concern and a medical professional should be consulted as soon as possible.

Hand Injury Surgery and Medical Care

A glance at your hand while you wiggle your fingers will say it all. As far as biological mechanical complexity goes, our hands are about as involved as they could be. Fixing something as complex as a hand is a task possible only for people who have spent a lifetime studying its intricacies.

A dedicated hand surgeon will have typically spent around ten to fifteen years becoming accredited. The path they take includes long stints in orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, and general surgery. Suffice it to say if the worst should happen and you suffer a badly cut hand, the people working to correct the damage will be of the highest caliber and capability.

Whatever the type of damage your hands have suffered, your doctors and surgeons have seen it all before. While your wounds may seem grizzly to you, it’s another day at the office for them. You can depend on the ability of your medical professionals, just ensure you get to them as soon as you can.

Emergency Room Visits

Once you arrive at the emergency room you’ll be dealt with accordingly depending on the severity of your case. A lot of injuries are time sensitive and will take precedence over others. It’s important to remain calm and trust the opinions of the medical staff.

Typically if your injury isn’t immediately life-threatening you may have to wait a while before you’re seen. If your wound isn’t clean, someone will take you aside to have it cleaned before the surgeon comes to inspect the damage. If you’re in a great amount of pain, they’ll likely offer you something to make you more comfortable while you wait.

An emergency room visit is nothing to be afraid of. They’re there precisely to receive people who’ve had accidental trauma of all kinds. If you suspect your wound is serious in any way, don’t hesitate to make the most of the help available, that’s what they’re there for!

Keeping Calm

The sight of blood from a severe laceration is enough to make anyone’s pulse quicken, let alone the person who’s sustained it. Keeping calm in the face of a severe cut to your hand will make the entire process less traumatic. Do your best to keep your wits about you and address the severity as realistically as you can before deciding on appropriate action.

Typically even a deep wound to the hand isn’t considered immediately life-threatening. The wound is situated far away from any internal organs, so as long as you apply pressure as best you can, you’ve got plenty of time to get help. Careful and calm consideration of your next steps could save you time and potentially the use of your hand.

Remind yourself that freaking out, no matter how natural it might feel to do so, isn’t going to help matters. Cool, calm, and collected rational thinking is the way to go. After grabbing a clean dishcloth or towel to press onto the wound to control the bleeding, take a couple of deep breaths before considering your situation carefully.

Ask For Help

Phoning a friend to assist you on your way to the hospital is a good idea, as driving with one hand is asking for further trouble. If you’re unable to operate your phone, ask a neighbor if they wouldn’t mind giving you a lift to the hospital if there’s nobody in your house who can drive.

Even if you don’t know the people who live nearby, they’re unlikely to ignore someone experiencing a medical emergency.

Failing that, ambulance services exist for exactly this eventuality. Calling for an ambulance might seem extreme, but with no other recourse, they might be your best bet. When speaking to the emergency services on the phone, they’ll ask about your situation.

Depending on your explanation and the sound of its severity, they’ll send out an ambulance directly to pick you up. If it doesn’t sound critical enough to warrant the use of an ambulance and paramedics, they may send a police car instead. Either way, getting to the hospital ought to be your number one priority.

Cleaning The Wound

It’s a good idea to rinse dirt and debris from your cut if you can bear it before the blood begins to congeal. As the first line of defense, platelets in our blood rush to the site of damage to aid in clotting, which helps to stop the flow of blood from a wound. If the blood begins to clot around a cut that isn’t yet clean, there’s a far greater risk of infection.

It might seem counterintuitive to rinse a wound, as the water will wash away the beginnings of the clotting process. It’s far easier to get dirt and other tiny foreign objects out of a wound before the process gets well underway, trapping particles inside as your blood begins congealing.

Simply run the wound under the cold tap for a moment or two to get the worst out before you visit the hospital.

Either way, the wound will have to be cleaned thoroughly before the surgery takes place. If it’s a deep finger injury, this is a good course of action. You might want to think twice if the wound is particularly large and deep, in which case stemming the tide of blood is preferable.

In Safe Hands

Once you’ve made it to the hospital, you can relax. The medical staff will take good care of your cut hand and set you up in a bed for examination.

The initial shock will most likely have passed by this point, and you can ask questions to put your mind at ease. Follow the instructions you’re given and you’ll be well on the road to recovery in no time!

If this article has prepared you for the worst, be sure to check out the rest of our blog. When it comes to hand, wrist, and finger problems, we’ve got you covered!

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The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas offers diagnosis and treatment for hand, wrist, and elbow problems in Houston, using the most advanced and minimally invasive medical techniques. Our orthopedic hand specialists and hand and finger surgeons are waiting to provide you with excellent care at one of our hand care centers in River Oaks, Webster, North Houston, Katy/Sugarland, or Baytown

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