A mutilating hand injury is severe damage to the hand. The injury may include damage to bones, tendons, soft tissues, nerves, and skin. It is caused by a trauma . It can become a life-threatening condition.

If you have this type of injury, call 911. Untreated, this can lead to a serious infection. Immediate care will also decrease the chance of further damage.


Mutilating hand injuries can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Industrial accidents
    • Machine injuries
    • Power tool injuries
  • Crushing accident
  • Burns
  • Chemical exposure
  • Car accident
  • Farming injuries

Risk Factors

This type of hand injury is the result of an accident. There are no known risk factors that increase your chance of this injury.


This injury is obvious. Bone, tendons, skin, nerves, and soft tissue may all be damaged. Common symptoms include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Amputation of hand or fingers
  • Ripped skin
  • Open wound
  • Skin loss
  • Exposed bone or tendons

Severe Hand Trauma

hand trauma
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When you are brought to the emergency room a doctor will quickly assess your injury. Your wound will be inspected and your hand’s nerves and tendons tested. You will be asked to explain how the injury happened. You will also be asked which of your hands is dominant.

Tests may include the following:

  • X-rays —test that uses radiation to form an image; used to assess damage to the hand bones
  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to form an image; used to assess damage to the hand bones
  • MRI scan —test that uses magnetic waves to form an image; used to assess damage to the hand bones and nerves
  • Examination of injury under anesthesia
    • Anesthesia is given so the doctor can closely examine your wound
    • Debris or dirt will be removed


Immediate treatment is focused on stopping any bleeding. The doctor will make sure your vital signs are stable. An intravenous line will be started to give you fluids and medicines. You may be referred to a hand specialist for surgery. Depending on your injury, you may receive the following treatment:

Tetanus Shot

This will protect you from a tetanus infection.


The following types of medication may be given:

  • Pain medications
  • Anesthesia to examine wound closely
  • Antibiotics to prevent a wound infection

Wound Irrigation

Sterile saline is used to clean the wound. This will help to prevent infection and further injury.

Hand Surgery

You may need to have immediate surgery. If your injury is less severe, your hand will be dressed and splinted. You will have a follow-up visit with a hand surgeon.

The type of surgery necessary depends upon the injury. Examples include fusing damaged joints and reattaching fingers. Often several surgeries are necessary for this type of injury.


You will likely need physical therapy to regain strength and movement in your hand. You may also work with an occupational therapist to learn how to function with your injured hand.


To help reduce your chance of injuring your hands, take the following steps:

  • Do not operate machinery that you are unfamiliar with.
  • Follow all safety instructions when operating tools or machinery.
  • Do not put fingers or hands near moving parts of machinery.