An acute hand injury is an injury that occurs suddenly as a result of a specific event, as opposed to a chronic condition, which develops over a period of time. ‘Acute’ does not refer to the severity of the injury; acute injuries can be mild (a strain or cut) or severe (amputation). Mild acute injuries may not require professional intervention; severe acute injuries generally will require treatment.
Acute injuries to the hand and wrist include lacerations (cuts), contusions (bruises), sprains and strains, amputations, fractures and dislocations, infections, burns and nail injuries. Most acute injuries are caused by blunt force trauma (such as a crush injury from a hammer) or by sharp objects (such as a cut from a knife).
If you have an acute hand injury you should consider seeking professional help. Even seemingly minor injuries might require expert treatment to prevent a permanent loss of function in your hand, and the longer you delay seeking treatment, the greater the potential impact. If you are uncertain about whether you need treatment, consult your local GP or contact the Hand Centre.
You should seek professional help if you have:
- A fracture, dislocation or amputation
- A deep open wound or dirty cut
- Burns which produce blisters more than 7 cm in diameter, encircle your finger or cover a substantial part of your hand or wrist
- Severe bleeding
- Severe pain
- Obvious swelling or deformity
- An infection (tenderness, warmth, redness, swelling, pus)
- Numbness, weakness or limited motion