The darker side of wearing a ring...
When discussing the positive attributes of rings, we rarely talk about the dangers of wearing jewelry on your finger. The durability of precious metals means they last a lifetime, and it’s comforting to know they can withstand most damage. But, it also means they don’t always come off your hand when necessary, especially in emergencies.💡
One of the most well-known finger injuries is ring avulsion, a condition that gained notoriety when Jimmy Fallon damaged his own finger and sustained extensive injuries. In this article, we’ll discuss:
- What is ring avulsion?
- How does ring avulsion happen?
- What to do if ring avulsion occurs
- How to stop ring avulsion from happening to you
Basics: What is ring avulsion?
What does “ring avulsion” even mean?
Ring avulsion is the process by which a ring on your finger catches on a surface. This can occur while falling, operating machinery, or even just not paying attention. As a result, the ring rips off of your finger, causing serious damage.
Injuries can vary, and some may only sustain minor bruising.😥 However, in some cases, blood flow can be cut off within your finger, and extensive tissue, nerve, and blood vessel repair may be required. In severe cases, you may even lose your finger entirely! Ring avulsion often results in partial mobility loss in your finger as well, and the joint may remain stiff indefinitely.
Sometimes, a ring avulsion injury does not look terrible from the outside, and you may not even see any damage. However, this does not mean you haven’t suffered more serious injuries internally, and you may have torn blood vessels or nerves within your finger. If you experience swelling, redness, bruising, or numbness, you should seek medical attention immediately!
Ring avulsion in the media
Ring avulsion can happen to anyone at any time, even to the rich and famous.
In 2015, Jimmy Fallon nearly lost his finger as a result of a ring finger avulsion incident. An innocent situation turned serious, Fallon slipped on a run in his kitchen, and his wedding ring got caught on the countertop. Once in the operating room, a surgeon took a piece of vein from his foot and used it to sustain blood flow to his finger.
Fallon’s finger was saved and suffered minor nerve damage, but the situation could have been much worse. This example is a great warning for the casual ring wearer: if you’re not careful, you could almost lose a finger!
How does ring avulsion happen?
Ring avulsion scenarios
There is no one common location for ring avulsion, and surfaces in your home, office, etc. can be potential dangers! Here are some simple scenarios and locations where you may be at risk for ring avulsion:👇🏻
Indoors, kitchen appliances, heavy doors, washers and dryers, and large furniture can snag your ring if you don’t handle it with care. Outdoors, sturdy structures like fences or basketball hoops and any large tools, lawnmowers, and even heavy garbage cans may pose a danger in the right circumstances.
At the gym
Exercise equipment is often made of metal, and its heavy duty nature makes it a prime offender for ring avulsion. You can snag your ring on resistance or rowing machines, and falling off of a treadmill could result in a finger injury as well. Lifting weights and kettlebell exercises can also be problematic. ⚠️Experts recommend not wearing a ring to the gym if you can avoid it.
If you operate heavy machinery, it’s crucial that you do not wear a ring on the job. Large machines can rip rings right off of your finger! Filing cabinets, large doors, and other office equipment can pose a danger even when you don’t work with heavy machinery.
Still unsure how ring avulsion can happen to you? Watch this video for a better understanding of how ring avulsion occurs:
How common is ring avulsion?
In reality, ring avulsion is uncommon. According to statistics, only about 150,000 cases of ring avulsion happen per year.📊 In comparison, over 7,000 people are treated daily for injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents. You’re far more likely to get in a car accident than suffer from ring avulsion, but it’s still an important injury to keep in mind if you wear your ring every day.
What to do if ring avulsion happens?
Classes of ring avulsion
The suggested treatment method for ring avulsion depends on the severity of the injury. Ring avulsion can be categorized into three types, based on the circulatory status of your finger. The classes are as follows:
Class I: Mild damage
Blood is still flowing through the finger, meaning blood vessels are intact. Minor skin, tissue, and bone repair may be necessary.
Class II: Moderate to severe damage
Blood is no longer moving through the finger, and extensive damage to blood vessels has occurred. In such instances, blood vessels must be reconnected and repaired first to restore blood flow to the finger. Once blood flow returns, tissue or bone repair can begin.
Class III: Severe damage
Skin and tissue may be missing entirely from the finger, or the finger itself may have been ripped off completely. In these cases, medical professionals must assess whether the finger is salvageable, at which time repairs or reattachment may begin. If the finger is not fit for reattachment, you may lose it permanently. Even if it is reattached, extensive nerve damage and limited mobility is likely at this point.
Treatment and recovery for ring avulsion
If you or someone you know experiences ring avulsion, seek medical help immediately. Dial your local emergency line to seek immediate medical attention.
If your finger is still connected, apply pressure with a bandage to decrease blood flow. Elevate the injury to prevent swelling, and get to the hospital as soon as you can.
If the finger is no longer attached, call for an ambulance or other person to take you to the hospital. If you are able, rinse your detached finger, wrap it in damp gauze or paper towels, and place it in a sealed bag then put the bag on ice to keep the finger preserved. Doing so will help keep your finger in proper shape for reattachment.
💡Recovery for ring avulsion can take a few weeks to several months. Depending on the severity of your injury, most individuals are back to normal within five to ten weeks.
How to avoid ring avulsion? (4 suggestions)
There are several factors that cause and can even increase your chances of injury, including:
A ring doesn’t fit properly - During a fall, a tight ring will not slip off as intended, meaning it could take your finger completely off!
Insecure design and poor materials - Designs with thin bands or extremely detailed metal work may pose additional dangers as they can increase the damage done in a fall.
A ring does not break when caught on another surface - If the band does not break, it will slide up your finger, causing damage along the way.
Suggestions for preventing ring avulsion
So what can you do to prevent ring avulsion? Here are a few ways you can protect yourself:
Remove rings during any activity
Remove your rings when working with your hands! Although you may love wearing your engagement ring, taking it off while completing a task can also help your ring last longer.
👉🏻For those with larger knuckles, taking off your rings is especially important. Your knuckles prevent rings from sliding off of your finger, meaning you’re at greater risk for ring avulsion. If you have large knuckles or hands that swell easily, make sure you remove your rings while working.
If your ring does get stuck on your finger due to swelling, there are a few solutions.
- For starters, try lubricating your finger with vegetable oil, lotion, butter, or conditioner to help your ring slide off of your finger.
- Or, you could try to reduce the swelling by dipping your finger in a cup of ice water and holding it over your head for 10 minutes. Then, remove your finger from the water and lightly press on the skin above the stuck ring, allowing it to slide off of your finger.
Properly measure your ring to ensure the right size
If your ring is too big, it can catch more easily on other surfaces and increase your chances of ring avulsion. If your ring is too small, it cannot offer the give necessary to protect your finger.
To find your ideal ring size, consider reading our ring sizing guide with some clever free methods for measuring your finger!
Opt for more secure settings and materials
Settings with smooth inner and outer edges minimize skin and tissue tearing. A wider band is also helpful to protect against blunt force, and they do not get caught on surfaces as easily.
Furthermore, make sure you buy a metal that is not magnetic. Gold, sterling silver, and platinum are non-magnetic, but other metals that contain iron can cause serious damage if your ring is pulled toward a strong magnet. As such, buy your rings from a reputable jeweler with quality metals, and avoid wearing magnetic rings anywhere near heavy machinery or anything magnetized.
Wear a silicone ring
Synthetic silicone rings—typically made of rubber and other soft materials—offer comfort, durability, and increased protection from ring avulsion. These bands bend with you while maintaining their shape, offering a product that is scratch and weather resistant for all occasions. 🥰They also offer “anti ring avulsion technology” and break away if caught on a surface.
Enso Rings are incredibly popular silicone options, as they include beautiful colors and patterns to show off a bit of your personality with your ring. Groove Life is also a leading name in silicone rings, providing metallic alternatives for those who miss the shine of a metal ring.
Ring avulsion is a serious injury that can happen to anyone and strike without warning. Within seconds, you could cause severe, possibly irreparable damage to your finger. Ring avulsion does not discriminate, and even wearers who think they behave safely can experience an accident that leads to serious damage.
Don’t let your fear of injuries stop you from finding the ring of your dreams! If you’re in the market for a new ring, consider checking out our article on 15 popular ring settings to find the one that’s best for you.