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Trapped Finger, Toe, or Limb

Topic Overview

A body digit or limb, such as your finger and toe (digits) or hand and foot (limbs), can sometimes get caught in objects such as bottles, jars, toys, pipes, railings, or fences. You may be able to free your digit or limb using home treatment.

Blood flow can be reduced or cut off if your digit or limb remains stuck in an object. Immediate removal can help prevent complications, such as the loss of your digit or limb. Remove your digit or limb carefully so that removal attempts do not cause injury.

To free a trapped digit or limb stuck in an object:

  • Don't force the digit or limb. This may make the digit or limb swell and become harder to remove.
  • Try to relax the digit or limb. Relaxation alone will sometimes enable you to free the trapped digit or limb.
  • If possible, elevate the digit or limb above the level of the heart to reduce swelling.
  • Apply ice around the exposed digit or limb. This may reduce any swelling and allow it to be released.
  • If ice doesn't work, dribble soapy water or cooking oil on the digit or limb to make it slippery.
  • Turn the object to "unscrew" it rather than pulling it off directly.

A doctor can assist with removal in a safe manner if these measures do not work. The fire department or paramedics may be needed to help free your trapped limb if it is trapped in an object connected to the ground, such as a fence.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
Current as of June 4, 2014

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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