Long story short, my left index finger got smashed by a car door. I have 4 stitches and a “phalangeal tuft fracture” (tip of index finger joint clean break). I went to the ER for initial treatment, then today to a walk-in clinic where it was splinted and I was now told to use heat compresses for a couple days to get the circulation going and to keep my hand elevated. Frantic calls to a hand specialist due to fear of losing the finger tip. Has anyone else dealt with an injury like this? I can fully appreciate what Emma G has gone through. I saw the car door and my life flash before me. Any advice welcome.
Oh Gretchen, I am so sorry! Fortunately for me it was only my little finger but the same advice applies: let it rest and recover! It does not take that long to heal – a month or so – but you would be wise to not stress the joint for some time beyond that.
When you can tolerate it, alternating hot and cold pads may help with the pain; seek medical advice for that suggestion. Good luck!!
If it helps – and I guess it won’t perhaps, but anyway…my pinky got slammed in a NYC cab door and the driver drove on off. I think I saw a lot of Lombard St. for a few seconds before pulling the hand out. Definitely a “life flash” event:-)
Poor you, it’s very worrying and a timely reminder to all of us to be careful….. hope this site helps you understand the timeline and to seek out the hand specialist as a priority. I wouldn’t plan anything for 2-3 months, perhaps longer, it’s often our own urgency which creates more anxiety about injuries, maybe plan some masterclasses instead. How awful.
Oh my goodness Gretchen, I’m so sorry to hear that. When I broke my wrist in December I also seriously injured my 3rd and 4th fingers too. No breaks but they don’t really know exactly what I did – tendons, ligaments all just shot. I’m still in a pain from them almost 6 months later and not playing properly. My consultant said that finger injuries can take up to 18 months to recover. (Sorry, I know that’s really hard to hear) However, once I was over the initial healing phase of about 8 weeks, he did say that, although they are painful, I am to use them as much as possible. I do lots of daily Physio and occupational therapy and I do play on them – just not at full strength. I am doing weddings again using amplification and some “adjusted” fingering. Things are improving all the time.
Once your bone has healed and you are out of the splint, you may find that you are surprised at just what you are able to do even without using your injured finger. Follow all the advice you are given and take it slowly. One of the things I have found very beneficial has been alternating between an ice filled bowl of water and a bowl of very hot water. It really keeps the circulation going and helps keep the swelling down. I also have a massage once a week to reduce the swelling (yup, I still have swelling!!!)
Wishing you a really speedy recovery. xx
I am so sorry to read about this, Gretchen! My wife had a similar accident a few years ago. A ladder fell on her and severed the end of her left thumb. I wrapped it up as best I could and rushed her to Urgent Care. They referred us to the best hand surgeon in Asheville, NC. He was able to re-attach the end of her thumb, and place a “retainer” in the area where her thumb nail had been pulled off, so that the nail grew back normally, eventually. The healing period was long, but her thumb is normal now.
She asked me to tell you to be sure and stroke your finger frequently to help the circulation and the nerves to heal. The surgeon told her that the nerves had a “memory” and by GENTLY stroking her thumb for several minutes at a time it helped her thumb to remember how to “feel” again. We also applied Aloe Vera each morning and night, and I played healing music for her on the harp every day. We wish you a speedy recovery!
Best to all of you,
Balfour and Carol Lynn
Thank you for the advice, comments and sympathy. For those of you who have experience with an injury like this, it makes this easier for me to deal with. This is a nightmare, but one that could be much worse. Luckily, we have a hand therapist in our neighborhood and I had the presence of mind today to call her. She called an orthopedist who said the swelling and numbness I have now is not a crisis. I will live until Monday to see a hand specialist:)
Part of my recovery is not only the fracture but also the cut on the index finger pad EXACTLY along the diagonal line I would pluck the string. I get the stitches out next week. This is a wide and somewhat deep cut.
Emma, I am so happy and relieved to know you can play again. I have been wondering how you were doing. Balfour, I will certainly ask the hand doctor about massaging and when I can do so.
PS. Let this be a warning to HC readers to be careful of car/vehicle doors and sharp objects like knives and scissors. Let’s include dog leashes that can tangle around your hands, as well.
From Carol Lynn:
I too am so sorry to hear about your hand. The technique that the surgeon taught me is not massaging or putting any pressure on the injury at all. It is a gentle stroking, just like stroking the head of a dog or cat. No pressure, just touch. My doctor had me do it even over the bandages. Hope this helps you.
With kindest regards and hopes for a speedy recovery,
Gretchen, I keep reading these posts and thinking about how you must feel. Mine was a wrist thing…smithereens…I was off the turf for three months, playing-wise. It really ached, and I found that keeping it warm with a scarf wrapped around it helped a lot (no cast- a fixator was screwed on).
Anyway, I was VERY depressed, and I really think my mom thought I’d never play again. I tried not to think that way, and every day seemed an eternity, so I’m guessing that maybe you might feel that way.
I am hearing about injuries far worse than mine so I feel a bit more fortunate. I saw the orthopedist this morning. My finger tip bone is completely fractured and is floating over the finger bone. As long as I don’t do anything stupid, the bone should “get sticky” in 2-3 weeks and start fusing together. I get the stitches on the finger pad out on Thursday. I can bend and move my finger now but more actively when the stitches come out to prevent stiffness. The recommendation by Balfour of stimulating the nerves by petting the finger was heartily endorsed. I remain on antibiotics until finished (10 days). I am supposed to keep my hand raised until the swelling is gone, about another week. Nothing was said about heat or ice, and I forgot to ask.
For injuries like this, a cast is not used. But, I was told to put on a splint or large bandaid when I went out, if no other reason to remind myself and others to watch out for my finger. I can very lightly start playing harp in another 3 weeks IF there is no pain. I was urged to be very cautious because the bone only is starting to heal then. The more realistic time is 6 weeks.
And, yes, every day seems like eternity right now. I am just thankful there will be a happy ending to this. Two strings broke yesterday just to add insult to injury:)
Alison, you are so nice to ask about my finger. Thankfully, I no longer have to worry about a day job so I was able to sit around for six weeks and hold my finger in the air and not use it at all. Even now, I don’t type with my left index finger. I slowly, slowly got back into playing and thankfully, ten weeks after the accident, my finger was OK. The feeling is not the same as my other fingers but I can accept that. My guitar partner and I had scheduled studio time in the summer for the album we are recording. I had to change the date until the end of September, and we were able to record then.
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