May 11, 2017

Fingertip injuries: Symptoms and treatment

Hand, Wrist and Elbow | Trauma


Fingertip injuries are very common and can occur anywhere and during any activity such as swinging a mallet, using a saw, crushing your hand in a door or pinching a fingertip while moving a heavy object.


Fingertips are full of nerves which make them extremely sensitive. Without prompt and proper treatment, a fingertip injury can cause problems with hand function and may result in permanent deformity or disability. To ensure the best outcome, it is important to have a hand specialist examine your finger after an injury.

An injury can damage any part of the fingertip including: skin and soft tissue, fingertip bone or nail and underlying nail bed.

How is a fingertip injury diagnosed?

To assess your fingertip injury, your physician will ask you for a complete medical history and what happened when you injured your finger, have you describe your symptoms and conduct a physical examination.

Amputated parts
If pieces of the finger are completely detached from the rest of the hand, please place them in a bag and on ice and take them with you. Sometimes the pieces can be reattached. Wrap the rest of the finger is saline soaked gauze. If there is active bleeding you can control the bleeding with pressure while you seek medical attention.

Nail abnormalities
Depending on the injury the nail may or may not grow back. This is difficult to assess at the time of injury. In some cases the fingernail will grow back with a deformity that may be able to be corrected with a short outpatient procedure.

Make an appointment with a hand, wrist or elbow specialist

How do you treat a fingertip injury?

Depending on the amount of tissue involved the fingertip will either be closed primarily or allowed to close secondarily. If bone is exposed it may be shortened slightly to allow for soft tissue coverage. If there is not enough skin to close the wound, sometime a skin graft or regional flap is necessary with minimal disturbance to the rest of the hand. In some cases the fingertip bone will need to be pinned temporarily. Although the nerves in the fingertip are too small to be repaired, there can often be chronic pain after a fingertip amputation or crush injury.

Parent's guide to at-home treatment

How do you recover from a fingertip injury?

Typically fingertip amputations can heal in two to four weeks. Sometimes hand therapy is necessary to get the finger moving fully after a severe injury.

Learn more about hand, wrist and elbow treatment at OrthoIndy.

Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000
Megan Golden

By Megan Golden

Megan Golden worked at OrthoIndy from 2012 to 2019, where she wrote a variety of content for our blog, magazines and inbound campaigns. Megan graduated from Ball State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising and communications studies minor.

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