Slam. Ouch. OUCH. Faint.
May 9, 2016 3:35 PM   Subscribe

I had a small but very painful accident involving a car door and a finger and need some advice - like do I need to see a doctor and what might happen if I do / don't. Warning - possibly wince-inducing details inside.

I shut the car door on my finger about five or so hours ago, and it's starting to hurt quite a bit. I'm not sure whether it's likely to go off in time, or whether I should go to see the GP tomorrow (it's late evening here). When I say shut, I really do mean shut - it was one of those freezing moments before I had to open the door with the handle - it was PROPERLY shut, if you can imagine it. It bled from under the cuticle area, and is still oozing now, the nail is numb, the finger is swollen at the end (caught it right across the nail and finger pad) and I haven't lost a nail since I was a girl. Oh, and I fainted just now after I'd run it under a cold tap and icing it made it hurt more. It's now throbbing and shooting pain simultaneously. Gosh, it's sore.

Question - I would feel a bit daft going to the doctor's for a crushed fingertip, obviously, but is there anything I should be aware of that might happen if I don't? If you've done painful things to your finger(s), what helped and how long did things take to settle down? If it matters, I'm diabetic and on blood thinners.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence to Health & Fitness (19 answers total)
If you're worried about compartment syndrome and you have insurance get thee to a doctor.

That said, I did a very similar thing and had similar symptoms. Oozing, bleeding, smashed finger with a huge dent in the nail where it had gotten caught. I wrapped some ice bags in a towel, iced it the best I could, and popped a couple ibuprofen for the next few days. It hurt forever and looked terrible, but four months later the nail has grown back and it feels fine.
posted by Marinara at 3:38 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I sliced the top of my finger off with a power deli slicer once. Keep your hand above your heart. I bled for like an hour and then someone (who had followed me into the break room earlier by the trail of blood I didn't realize I was leaving) eventually came back in and suggested I hold it above my heart and that stopped the bleeding. They wanted to send me to the emergency room but I didn't want to pay the bill and now I couldn't even tell you which finger it was by looking at them all.

I do not have diabetes and I was not on blood thinners.

Topical comfrey is great for helping things heal ridiculously fast but since you're diabetic I don't know if you'd want to use it because it's not great for your liver.
posted by aniola at 3:41 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Holding my hand above my heart stopped the bleeding so instantly that I spent the next five minutes moving my hand above and below the level of my heart and watching the bleeding start and stop and start and stop again.
posted by aniola at 3:43 PM on May 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

You could go to the ER and get an X-ray but it would cost you a ton of money and chances are there is nothing broken. Therefore there is probably not much a doctor is actually going to do about this other than what you already know: double doses of ibuprofen (or any more serious painkiller lying around from your last root canal), keep it iced as much as possible and elevated above your heart. The reason this hurts particularly bad is just that your fingernail is containing the pressure and keeping the finger from swelling where it wants to.
posted by beagle at 3:48 PM on May 9, 2016

You are diabetic, on blood thinners, and have an injury that has the potential for compartment syndrome, all of which is not great news. And it sounds like you're in the UK and so can probably afford to get it looked at even if it isn't precisely life-threatening right now. If you can't do anything with it without fainting, what happens if it gets worse in the middle of the night and you can't maintain consciousness long enough to get to help? Are you home alone?

It's unlikely you're going to get any sleep, might as well go now while it's quiet.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:49 PM on May 9, 2016 [14 favorites]

Thanks for the responses so far - sorry, yes I am in the UK and I have a husband who is aware of what's going on.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 3:53 PM on May 9, 2016

If I lost consciousness from pain, was bleeding, diabetic, and on blood thinners, I'd go to the emergency department of a hospital. Go ahead and go! Let them be the judge of how bad your finger is. That's what they're there for.

(This reminds me of the time my dryer was smoking. For 5 minutes I delayed calling the fire department because I convinced myself that "smoke" didn't necessarily equal "fire" and that I didn't want to bother the nice firemen. It turned out my house was, you know, actually on fire. They chided me for waiting that 5 minutes and said they WANT to be called, even if it turns out to be a false alarm.)
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:00 PM on May 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

Well, it's your finger, of course you should go! I remember a guy from out of country coming up to me at work, he was apologetic, had done the same thing, and we all rallied around and got him to the immediate care facility.

Please go have it looked at, for your peace of mind. It can't hurt, and might help.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:01 PM on May 9, 2016

I had my finger slammed in a car door at age 7--it was right on the knuckle. The pain was intense. We went to the emergency room. The skin was broken so they soaked it in antiseptic solution. They x-rayed it--it was not broken. I wore a splint on it for a couple of weeks and then it was fine. This was in the US, and no doubt my parents paid nicely for the ER visit, but no one regretted doing it.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:08 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've had this kind of injury more than once with no bone fracture. The acute pain for me went away in an hour or so, but it still throbbed for a while. There was not much to be done except painkillers (which I didn't have, just suffered through).

Your pain description sounds familiar to me... blood flow causes sharp throbbing... but pain so bad it makes you faint does not sound familiar. In combination with your other medical concerns, you should probably go in.
posted by zennie at 4:18 PM on May 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh, I had missed the "numb" in your description. That changes my answer to: go in NOW.
posted by zennie at 4:21 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Feeling daft is not enough of a reason not to get this looked at by a professional. You might see if you've got access through your insurance (or whatever you've got where you are) to a nurse hotline, which you could call and then get the opinion of someone who can take your various factors into account and suggest safe ways to help with the pain and such.

For what it's worth, I did a very similar thing to myself in college. I didn't go to a doctor, but I'm not diabetic or on blood thinners and I definitely didn't pass out. I mostly iced it for the rest of the day, and then watched in horror as my nail dried up and fell off and split and other gross things for the next week. There was sharp pain for a couple days and then a throbbing ache that didn't really go away for about a month, but I could comfortably use my finger and apply pressure and all that after the sharp pain went away. However! I was stupid and american without insurance and should have gone to a clinic at least to get it all properly sterilized. You are not stupid or american. Don't be me! But if you are being me, you'll proooobably be okay, but it'll suck.
posted by Mizu at 4:41 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Cost is not a concern? Hie thee to the nearest A&E.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:48 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd be wary of recommendations to use ibuprofen for pain/inflammation under these circumstances. It is also a blood thinner. Doubling down on thinning your blood may be exactly wrong right now. A medical professional can give you proper advice, and IMHO, not consulting one would be daft.
posted by peakcomm at 4:50 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, I slammed my left pinkie in a car door early one morning when I was 12. They took me to the school nurse who wouldn't do much of anything until they got in touch with my mom. My mom slept until the crack of noon most days, so they couldn't get her for several hours. By the time she got me to doctor, the doctor said that it had been too long for him to put in stitches, so he cleaned it up, put on some butterfly bandages and sent me on my way.

Some 37 years later, I have a fabulous scar and the nail has a permagroove in it. That's it.
posted by plinth at 5:01 PM on May 9, 2016

Definitely go to the ER. You need to get this looked at.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:04 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fainting, diabetic and on blood thinners? Time to talk to a pro.
posted by ridgerunner at 5:18 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

This happened to my uncle. He thought it was fine, but ended up needing the last knuckle of his finger amputated. This caused problems down the road with typing and playing instruments. Please go to the ER/A&E and have it looked at by a hand specialist.
posted by arcolz at 5:19 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Quick update - it's about 2.30am here and we're just back from A&E following the good advice in this thread. The nail didn't stop bleeding, but I've had x-rays and there's no crush fracture - a wonderful ward sister of the old school looked at it even before she'd cleaned any of the blood and gunk off it and said "Split nail" and lo, it was thus. Nice big crack across half the nail and a bruise underneath but she said the bleeding was a good thing because it meant the pressure was being released and I wouldn't lose the nail.

I think AskMefi is great and you're all kind people with sensible advice - if it had been broken I would have needed antibiotics and the fantastic nurse didn't make me feel silly for coming in either.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 6:38 PM on May 9, 2016 [19 favorites]

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