Do You Know What to Do if Someone Cuts Off a Finger?

Accidents happen suddenly, whether it is amidst traffic, sports activities, or handling machinery. The affected person experiences shock, pain and numbness, intense perspiration, and an overwhelming mental and physical crisis. Hopefully, caring for the first aid rules and heeding precautions can prevent extreme situations. The initial attention goes to the sufferer and the severed finger. Both need proper caring if somebody can fulfill hopes of reattaching the finger. Reattachment is not always possible in every case, like if the finger is badly crushed. Even if reattached successfully, it is a long period of recovery. 

Attend to the Injury

Apply firm pressure to the injury site, pressing with the fingers to reduce and control the bleeding. The injury requires immediate cleansing with water or saltwater. Get moist gauze to wrap up the damage. Keep the hand raised, which will reduce the swelling. Prepare a splint that will steady the hand.

What Happens to the Detached Finger?

Take good care of the severed finger or fingertip.

  • Get a damp paper towel to wrap it. 

  • Please put it in a waterproof bag or container and seal it. 

  • Now place the bag or container in another container with ice. 

  • The ice should not contact the severed finger to avoid further damage. 

  • Carry the severed finger to the emergency room.

  • Get treatment for the injury quickly.

  • Reattachment may be feasible. 

Consequences of Shock

When injury or ailment occurs, the body experiences shock when the cells are deprived of oxygenated blood. A severed finger could result in the following −

  • Sweating, sighing, and thirst

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Elevated heart rate 

  • Fainting and enlarged pupils

  • Cold and moist skin 

Recommended Actions

Contact the emergency medical facility as early as possible.

  • Encourage the person and offer assurance 

  • Assist them in lying down with raised feet 

  • Keep the body warm with a blanket or coat 

  • Avoid food and drink for the moment 

  • If vomiting, turn the body to the side 

  • Check the pulse and breathing 

  • Give cardiopulmonary resuscitation if required

Reattachment Procedures

It is a complex task if the severed finger is found worthy of reattachment, not having suffered extensive damage.

The microsurgery procedure requires general anesthesia throughout so that no pain is felt. 

The surgeon removes damaged and dead tissue in a process called debriding that prevents infection.

Because of bone damage, trimming bone ends helps them to fit better.

Sewing together the nerves and the blood vessels and tendons inside the finger helps heal.

Bones may require plates, screws, and wires to join them again, according to the intensity of the damage.

Stitching, closing, and bandaging the wound is the final stage of the delicate operation.  

Complications that Might Follow Surgery

Hopefully, the healing process and recovery will take place as expected. Yet, some problems may remain over the shorter or longer term. Coping up may require therapy or a social support group.

  • Finger swelling or changes in shape

  • Muscle atrophy

  • Arthritis or joint stiffness

  • Pain and sensitivity to cold

  • Scar tissue or fibrous tissue

  • Drooping fingertip

  • PTSD or depression 

Positive Steps for the Sufferer

Discuss the strategy with a healthcare professional or therapist and closely follow the instructions. Eating a nutritious diet and regular sleeping and waking hours are crucial. Ample hydration with water and fruit juices helps. Wear a protective splint and attend physiotherapy activities. Don’t forget to take all the medications advised. Avoid excessive tobacco and alcohol. Attend occasional appointments with the doctor regularly.

Post-finger Surgery Effects

How long the recovery will last, weeks or years, depends upon the extent of the injury and the reattachment surgery. After the anesthesia during the surgery, pain medications reduce the agony. Antibiotics last a few days to ward off infections. Changes in dressing need to be done, and instructions are given. The doctor removed the stitches maybe a week after the surgery. Physical examinations continue during further appointments.

In case any indications of infection are found, the doctor should be informed immediately. Watch out for redness, swelling, or warmth. Are the pain and tenderness increasing? If fever occurs with pus and slow healing, report it. Red streaks, foul smell, and skin and nail color changes are other indications of infection.

Recovering Nerves

The injury has wrecked bone, skin, muscle, and nerves. The healing of nerves may take a very long time. Numbness and weakness, tingling, and loss of feeling in the nerves are expected. Stiffness and pain are natural but for how long? According to research, nerve healing time depends upon the injury. Generally speaking, recovery of nerves may take 3 to 6 months.


The rehab process could extend from a few weeks to several months. Recovering the hand strength, Function, and Range of motion will take quite a while. Physical therapy plays a salient role. Commence physical or occupational therapy about two months after the surgery, which may continue several months later. Consult the doctor about starting gentle exercise. Carry out exercises at home as advised. A splint on the hand or finger ensures safety and better healing.

Physical therapy combined with massages strengthens the hand and fingers and increases flexibility. Grip exercise, Range of motion, Finger extension, and Function exercise help recover the hand and finger movements gradually. Using a ball, hold, squeeze, and release it. Make a fist and release the fingers. Increase the Range of motion by using the normal hand to bend and straighten the fingers one by one. Test finger extension with the palm placed flat on a table and raise the fingers slowly, turn by turn. Pick up coins with the fingers along with the injured finger. 


Excessive damage to the severed finger or excessive delay after the accident rules out the reattachment procedure. It may not be medically feasible to re-join the severed finger. Still, surgery is required, maybe with a flap or graft to cover the wound. Immediate medical attention saves lives and fingers. Suppose medical attention is unavailable. Like, in remote places, hand and finger functions may suffer permanently. The person needs reassurance and family and social support to overcome the trauma successfully.

Updated on: 07-Apr-2023


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