Saturday, March 04, 2006

How to treat a smashed finger

As virtually all things eventually must come to an end, I had to do something about that fingernail and it’s pretty colours. The blood underneath the nail was causing a lot of pressure, resulting in a rather swollen finger. Not to mention, the skin was feeling uncomfortably (read: painfully) tight. So what does one do in this situation? Well, you have to relieve the pressure. Yes, you can treat this yourself, and yes, it will feel much better afterwards.

While this treatment may sound like it came from a torture scene in a horror movie, it can feel like torture — if not done properly! Follow the instructions, however, and it should actually be a painless — and pain-relieving — procedure.

Do not follow these instructions if:
  • you don’t feel a lot of pressure or see swelling of the finger around the nail
  • your finger is deformed from the smashing (in this case, definitely see a doctor)
  • the damage is not just limited to the end of your finger or involves a significant cut (also, see a doctor)
  • your finger has not been smashed
  • you’re a wimp, or you’re not sure if you’re a wimp.

Note: If you’re a minor, it’s smart to have parental supervision before following these instructions. Also, I take no responsibility if you do something stupid in the course of relieving your finger(s) of pressure from blood
under the nail. In other words, proceed at your own risk.

You’ll need a few important tools to succeed at this. Here’s the list:
  • medium-sized metal paper clip
  • pliers (for holding the paper clip)
  • pen (I prefer Sharpie)
  • gas burner
  • matches or a lighter (if the burner is not self-lighting), and
  • something (preferably clean) to wipe up the blood.

Optionally, I recommend that you have a few assistants, especially if this is your first time doing this procedure:
  • One steady-handed and strong-stomached person. This is particularly helpful if you’re not feeling up to doing it yourself, as you may be a little queasy or weak from the idea, or just not feeling so hot in general.
  • If necessary, one or two more people to hold you down.

It’s probably a good idea for everyone involved to wash their hands with soap and water, if available, beforehand. Next, identify the area of the fingernail that appears to have the most blood trapped underneath, and mark the center of the area with a dot, using the pen.

Step 1: Straighten the paper clip
Un-bend the paper clip so you have about a 2 or 3 inch straight section, leaving one end still bent. Any longer than that makes accuracy more difficult.

Step 2: Heat up the paper clip
Use the pliers to hold the paper clip on the section that is still bent, for the best grip. Over the gas flame, heat the tip of the straightened end until it is red-hot. This is important! Unless you’re a masochist, it must be red-hot.

Step 3: Insert red hot paper clip into fingernail
Using the dot you made with the pen as your target, gently push the red-hot tip of the paper clip through the nail. It will quickly melt right through - don’t go deeper than a millimeter or so. Again, if it’s not red-hot, you will have to force it, and trust me, that doesn’t feel so great.  Warning: due to the pressure, you may experience some brief squirting action. I had a single thread-thin string of liquid red shoot about 2 meters. Sorry, no camera
footage --  you’ll just have to believe me on that one.

Step 4: Press out extra blood
Optional but recommended: After you create the hole, squeeze the sides of the finger next to the affected area to remove any excess trapped fluid. This should extend the time it takes before it’s necessary to repeat the procedure up to maybe a day or two.

Here’s the video, so you can see it all in action. Well, steps 3 and 4 anyway. It’s even formatted for your video-enabled iPod so you can gross out your friends and family!

You must have QuickTime installed to watch.

Step 5: Clean up.

Resources and more info
Vandenberg Air Force Base 30th Medical Group Self Care Guide

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Blogger cincikid said...

I couldn't sleep at night due to the throbbing pressure. I was hesitant but I performed it and I am now relieved.


10:09 AM  
Blogger Rafael said...

De nada, amigo! I'm glad I could help. =)

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

been suffering for 36 hours.. finally got my wife to do it as my thumb looked like a water balloon filled to the popping point. ahhhh relief, and no pain in the process whatsoever. fascinating!

8:39 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I didn't think I was going to be able to work at all this week. I looked online and found this and it worked! Thanks for the info!

4:26 PM  
Blogger ghelasha said...

i smashed my thumb last month, i took an appointment in a clinic today, he said he is going to release pressure from it, hope he will do it properly.


6:21 AM  
Blogger Rafael said...

@Lisa: You're very welcome. :)

@Ghelasha: Wow, almost a month with no treatment? Sounds painful! Anyway, I'd love to hear what he does to release the pressure... please report back if you get a chance!

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came across this remedy doing a search and after trying what you suggested I had to reply with a Big Thank You ! There wasn't any pain whatsoever in the process. Instant relief.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Lisa 2 said...

The paper clip worked! I smashed my finger in the car 5 days ago. My co-workers had been suggesting all week that I put a hot needle through my nail. I finally asked my husband to try it yesterday but with the paper clip. I felt immediate relief from the pressure. It was hard to get the nerve to do it but it worked! Try using Medi-Honey to prevent infection.

Lisa 2

7:19 PM  
OpenID DMBDCBS said...

youre the man!!! it worked and i got rid of a ton of the blood!!!

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for having this information and the video made it easier and helped convince me to stick a red hot wire in my black nail.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I smashed my finger a week ago and luckily there was already a split on my nail. All I did though was use a needle instead of a paper clip with no heat. You feel more relief than pain once you poke though. I been though this a couple of times so the poking the finger thing isn't so hard to do. Now I just got to grow a new nail. Cool video too!

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanx, i sort of knew that you had to pierce in nd that, I couldn't bring my self to head up a paperclip n pierce it through my nail, but i did use a non heated needel to relief the blood from under my nail, which realy did help alot, it has been throbbing since 8a.m when i trapped it in my mum's car...awch lol.
Anyways thanx,
and i did it slowly under the nail n the blood squeezed out has taken off some pressre......just gonna have to convince myself to do it properly as that didn't hurt anywhere near as much as i thought it would.
Thanx again, Danielle 15 years.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go to the hardware store and buy the smallest drill bit they have. A 1/16th is about right. Using the drill bit with YOUR HAND gently apply pressure and twist the drill bit into the injured nailbed. It will start cutting through very quickly and painlessly. Within a minute you'll be through the nail and the pressure will be relived. For you weak stomach folks.......forget the hot paperclip/needle method.

4:49 PM  

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