Hand Trauma - Diagnosis & Treatment

How is hand trauma diagnosed?

Diagnosis of hand trauma and injuries vary, and typically include:

  • Clinical examination. In a clinical or physical examination of the hand, your doctor will examine your wound or injury and test for nerve and muscular function.
  • Imaging tests. To test for injuries that are not visible to the naked eye, X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans and electrodiagnostics can help to identify fractures, dislocations or the presence of foreign objects.

How is hand trauma treated?

Treatment varies according to the type of injury and its severity. Severe or complicated injuries or trauma may sometimes require surgical intervention but general care may be practiced for these:

  • Lacerations or cuts need to be cleaned and have pressure applied to stop the bleeding. If the item that caused the cut is still embedded, do not remove it and seek medical attention instead. The cut will then need to be dressed to prevent contamination.
  • Fractures (broken bones) and dislocations should be immobilised or placed in a splint where possible. If the fracture has resulted in an exposed bone, cover it with a clean cloth to prevent dirt from getting into the wound and seek immediate medical attention.
  • Soft tissue injuries can be iced to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Amputations require immediate medical attention. Cover the injury with a clean, damp cloth and elevate the hand above the heart to reduce bleeding. If it’s possible to retrieve the amputated part, it should be kept damp and cool but not in direct contact with ice.
  • Infections should be kept clean and dry, and usually require antibiotics. A severe infection may require draining and removal of dead tissue.
  • Burns caused by heat can be cooled with water, while chemical burns should be cleansed with a lot of water. The burn should then be covered until you can see a doctor.

What appears to be a mild injury may be more serious than you think, so any trauma or injury to your hands should be seen by a doctor to rule out any permanent damage and to receive the necessary care and medication you may need.

See a doctor immediately if you experience any injury or pain that does not get better with home treatment such as ice and rest, or if the pain, swelling or bleeding gets worse.

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