Wound Care of a Finger Amputation
After you have a finger amputation, you will have a wound that requires regular care. We typically see these patients three times a week to monitor the status of their wound. As your wound heals, you may not need to come three times per week.
The Color System
One method for describing wounds involves characterizing them with one of three colors: red, yellow, or black. A red wound is a healthy wound full of new tissue (granulation tissue). This wound will look reddish-pink and will look “fresh.” A yellow wound is a wound with a lot of drainage (exudate). This is not always a sign of infection, but your wound will require a dressing that will absorb the drainage. A black wound is a wound with dead (necrotic) tissue. Typically, we like to remove that tissue so your wound can heal more quickly. Your therapist is working to transform your wound to a completely red wound.
Treatment for Finger Amputation: The Whirlpool
In our office, one of the most common treatments we use for a finger amputation is the whirlpool. The whirlpool uses warm water pressure to gently scrub the wound, softening and removing the dead tissue. The removal of the dead tissue cleans the wound, allowing new skin to mature, helping prevent infection. The whirlpool should not hurt, but it may be uncomfortable at first. After the whirlpool, we remove any dead tissue to help the wound heal more quickly, and then we apply a dressing to the wound. We typically recommend leaving your dressing on until your next appointment. You can be too attentive to wounds, and changing the dressing too frequently can disrupt the body’s natural healing process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will my nail grow back?
If you are wondering whether or not your nail will grow back, the answer depends on whether or not your nail bed is intact. As your wound heals, we will be able to see whether or not the nail is growing back. In this stage of therapy, we will push the cuticle back to help the nail emerge from the nail bed and re-grow.
Can I whirlpool my finger at home?
The most popular question we get from patients who use the whirlpool is whether or not they can whirlpool their finger at home. We do not recommend this. When you use our whirlpool, we clean it with a medical grade cleaner, and also with an alcohol and water solution, and we test it for bacteria and fungal growth to prevent infection.
What will my finger look and feel like?
Another concern is what the amputated finger will look like after it is heals. Your hand therapist will help you learn about shaping and will teach you to wrap the dressing a certain way to shape the fingertip. If the nail bed is intact, your finger could potentially look normal again. Your finger may be very sensitive as the nerves grow back. Your hand therapist can teach you about desensitization techniques to help your regain normal feeling in your fingertip.
Have you sustained an injury that resulted in a finger amputation? Do you suspect that your workplace environment is causing you pain? If so, you could be a candidate for hand therapy services at LB Hand Therapy in Maryland. Visit our Where to Begin page to become a patient.