There are so many parts of your body to consider when you think of what injuries you can incur in a car wreck. Protection from the big injuries is what typically draws concern from drivers and passengers. After all, seatbelts, air bags and anti-lock brakes were created to help shield us all from the more life-threatening injuries such as back and head trauma. Few people consider how something somewhat minor like a hand injury can affect their life.
Hand pain from an auto accident injury can be every bit as debilitating as living with a bad back or injured foot. When you think about your everyday activities, how many do you think you could do with ease without full use of your hand? It’s not likely a significant concern until you find yourself in the position of trying to pick up and grip a toothbrush, or putting your keys in the ignition to start your car.
How do you know if a hand injury is serious?
With 27 bones located in the hand and wrist, there is a lot of room for damage to occur if your hand isn’t protected during a motor vehicle collision. Hand injuries are most commonly caused by blunt force trauma or sharp objects causing a wound. In car accidents, this can be anything from a hand being thrown against a door to cut by broken windshield glass.
Most injuries that can cause temporary and permanent hand pain come with:
- Decreased range of motion
These symptoms point to injuries such as:
- Wrist injuries
- Finger injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Dislocations of joints or knuckles
Treating a hand injury after a car crash
While receiving medical care should be a priority after any car accident, not everyone rushes to the emergency room right away. If your hand has been injured, the one thing you don’t want to delay is the “RICE” protocol. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. In the first 24 hours after a hand injury, this can be critical to minimizing long-term damage. Additionally, you need to begin using your hand and wrist again within 72 hours after the injury has been inflicted or you risk losing function, flexibility, and strength.
If your hand injury is serious enough that you require surgery or a cast, follow the advice of your doctor when it comes to your recovery. In some instances it is possible you could face losing part of your hand through amputation if it means saving the rest of your hand or your life to prevent deadly infection from setting in if you experienced a crush injury during the collision.
How long does it take to recover from a hand injury?
In many cases, your hand should begin to feel better within 10 days. If not, that’s a sign that there is a deeper injury than you or your doctor originally thought, and it is time for x-rays and further diagnosis. On the other hand, if you gradually begin to feel like your pain is subsiding, and you’re able to start using your hand and bend your wrist again, you are likely on the mend. However, it can take anywhere from two weeks to several months to make a full recovery. That may mean you could be out of work for an extended period.
Sometimes it will also include sessions with a physical therapist to ensure your full range of motion returns. If you do require physical therapy, it is important that you complete all the sessions to receive the maximum benefit in your recovery. This rehabilitation treatment is a process. Some days will be good while others may feel like your progress is backsliding, so you need to keep at it and give your nerves, joints, and ligaments time to heal.
If you or a loved one has injured your hand in a car accident, don’t delay seeking the legal help that you need. Often the insurance companies will delay or try to twist the facts to avoid liability while you suffer without the treatment you desperately need. The Oklahoma City auto accident attorneys at Cunningham & Mears won’t let that happen. To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation in our office call (405) 232-1212, or we invite you to reach out to us through the firm’s contact page to tell us your story.
Ryan Y. Cunningham is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Cunningham devotes his practice to protecting the rights of injured Oklahoma residents. In addition to assisting injured clients, Mr. Cunningham endeavors to improve personal injury representation by speaking on issues related to personal injury law to attorneys in continuing legal education courses and to law students. Learn More