Sometimes it seems like its a wonder that children get through their early years, given the abuse that their fingers take. Crush injuries to the hand or fingers are incredibly common among toddlers and young children, usually occurring when a heavy object falls on the hand, or the hand is slammed in a door.
Often, these childhood injuries do not require an emergency room visit, although it is usually a good idea to see your doctor as soon as you can, just to make sure that everything is all right. There are things that you can do at home while you are waiting for the doctors regular office hours.
Keep an Eye On the Child
Realistically, a few hours will not make a difference. So before you rush off to the ER, just watch the child for a while. If he or she uses the hand, even a little, then chances are good that nothing is broken. For that matter, a small break, if left unattended for even several hours, will not cause any lasting harm. You can safely wait for the doctor.
Having said that, if the hand seems extremely swollen, or if fingers look like they are bent, a trip to the ER is warranted. You should expect some swelling with a crush injury, but unless it is severe or accompanied by disfigurement, it can wait.
If the crushing has occurred to the fingernails, you can expect to see nails bleeding or appearing bruised. Again, this does not necessarily mean that any bones are broken. If the nail appears to have been pulled out, either completely or partially, then you may wish to make a trip to the ER in order to have it sewn back in place. Sometimes, if this is not done, a new nail may not grow back in to replace it. If you decide not to go to the ER, apply an antibiotic ointment to the injured area and tape the nail down so that is protected from being pulled out accidentally.
Treating the Injury
You can reduce swelling, and ease the pain, by applying ice to the injury. Never apply ice directly – you can soak the childs hand in a bowl of water that contains some ice cubes, or use a medical cold pack. In a pinch, even a bag of frozen vegetables can work as a cold pack. You can also offer childrens ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease the pain. Keep in mind, though, that children should not be given aspirin.
Hand and finger crush injuries are very common in young children. Most of the time the parent feels worse about it for longer than the child does. Also, most of the time these types of childhood injuries can be treated quite effectively at home with cold packs and over-the-counter pain killers. However, if swelling is excessive or the fingers appear bent out of shape, see your doctor or go to the emergency room.