Avoiding an injured finger this winter

The most common finger injuries we see in clinic include lacerations, crushing injuries, fractures and sprains. Finger sprains are quite common, especially in the sports world, and symptoms may linger for several months. In the winter, some types of injuries become more common. These can include:

  • Frostbite
  • Sprains from winter sports
  • Lacerations from snowblowers

Injured finger: Frostbite

You can easily get an injured finger due to frostbite. This condition can occur in as little as thirty minutes when your hands are exposed in freezing temperatures. The symptoms of frostbite include:

  • Cold, tingling skin
  • Numbness
  • Discolored skin
  • Joint and muscle stiffness
  • Waxy-looking skin

With frostbite, prevention is key. Always wear insulated gloves when you will be working or playing outdoors. If you will be out for long periods of time, try using hand-warmer packets, and switch to mittens as they will keep your fingers warmer.

Injured finger: sprain

Finger sprains are very common in any winter sport. Practice helps reduce the risk of injury, but you cannot prevent them entirely. If a finger is jammed or sprained, you can buddy tape the injured digit to an adjacent non-injured one as a form of splinting. If the injured finger is swollen, discolored, misshapen, or in severe pain, it may be more than just a sprain.

Injured finger: LacerationsWintertime person using snow blower

Each year, around 9,000 people lose a finger to a snowblower accident. Snowblower injuries may vary from a simple cut that can be repaired with a few sutures to a more severe injury that requires finger re-implantation or amputation. You must use proper caution when operating a snowblower. Always turn the machine off before trying to clear a blockage with your hands.

When to visit the doctor for an injured finger

Since finger injuries often occur after a forceful, sudden impact, they are difficult to prevent. It is best to see a doctor if you think you have broken a finger. A specialist like those of us at Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group can help assess your situation and provide splints and other treatment as necessary. Determining if you have a sprain, fracture or potentially a tendon injury can be important to assess in the first couple of days after an injury for the optimal outcome. In many situations, you can receive treatment other than surgery.

If the injury appears more severe, it is important to see a doctor right away. That is one reason we opened our Express Care walk-in clinic. It is a more affordable alternative to the ER and provides on-site expert care for orthopedic injuries that is often not available right away in an Emergency Room. We are also happy to take care of you in the hand department whenever you need to see a physician. Same day appointments are usually available.

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