Injuries to the tips of fingers can occur in a variety of situations and should always be taken seriously. Injuries that crush, tear, or amputate the tip of one or more fingers can cause damage to the skin, bone, and nail bed. These injuries can be quite painful and may cause permanent damage to the functioning of the hand if not treated appropriately.
When a fingertip injury occurs, the affected hand should be elevated above the level of the heart. Ice should be applied immediately, and the injured area should be covered with a sterile dressing. If one or more fingertips are amputated, clean the amputated portion with saline, store it in a watertight bag wrapped in gauze, and bring it with you to the emergency room. Avoid placing the amputated part on ice, as it may further damage the tissues.
Treatment of fingertip injuries depends upon the severity of the injury, whether the injured hand is dominant, lifestyle concerns, and medical conditions which may complicate treatment such as arthritis. The ultimate goal is to restore function and sensation to the injured finger without pain, and if possible to maintain the normal appearance of the finger and nail bed. Generally, initial treatment will include local anesthesia followed by cleaning of the wound. If bone is exposed, a tissue graft or shortening of the bone may be required to close the wound. Other larger fingertip wounds may also require a skin graft. If a substantial part of the finger has been amputated, your doctor may discuss whether a longer, more complicated surgery to re-attach the amputated portion (replantation) is appropriate for your personal circumstances. Recovery following surgery to repair a fingertip injury will often include hand therapy to allow you to regain your range of motion and strength in the affected finger.