Digital Nerve Injury
The most commonly injured nerves are the digital nerves in the fingers or thumb. The digital nerves function is to transmit information about what the fingers are touching to the brain. There are two digital nerves to each finger that pass along either side of the finger and are responsible for the feeling on that side of the finger or thumb. A laceration to the finger may cut the digital nerve and this will cause altered feeling or numbness on that side of the finger, particularly the pulp (pad) of the finger. It is important to have good feeling in the tips of the fingers – to perform delicate tasks, and to know if something hot or sharp is being touched.
Nerve Injuries to the Finger or Thumb
Nerve injuries may involve the major nerves of the arm and forearm, the median, ulnar and radial nerves, and also the smaller nerve branches in the hand and fingers, the digital nerves.
Assessment of Nerve Injuries to the Finger or Thumb
A careful examination, testing sensation (feeling) and the function of muscles in the hand / upper limb will identify which nerve has been damaged, and the level along the nerve that this has occurred (if this is not obvious from the site of a wound).
Surgery for Nerve Injuries to the Finger or Thumb
When a laceration has occurred in the vicinity of a nerve and the nerve is clearly not functioning normally, surgical exploration is required. There is often damage to other structures such as tendons, blood vessels and muscles as well as the nerve.
After surgery a protective splint is usually worn to protect the healing nerve.