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Loss of Function After a Skin Injury

Loss of function means you do not have normal movement with your best effort despite the pain. Sometimes it is hard to tell whether there is a true loss of function, because you may not want to move the injured area if movement causes pain.

Most cuts, scrapes, bites, or puncture wounds do not injure underlying nerves, tendons, ligaments, bones, or joints. It is common to have burning, tingling, or numbness around the wound immediately after the injury. This is not a concern.

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Sometimes a wound will damage underlying structures. You may not be able to move the injured area, or it may feel numb. This is more serious when the loss of function is not caused by pain or your symptoms spread beyond the local area of the injury. Symptoms of damage to underlying tissues may include:

  • Loss of feeling (sensation), which may occur with a nerve injury.
  • Inability to move, which may occur with an injury to a tendon or nerve.
  • Abnormal movement or loss of function of a joint, which may occur with a ligament injury or a broken bone.
  • Swelling and inability to move, which may occur with a joint injury.
  • Pain, abnormal movement, or loss of function, which may occur with a bone injury.

A deep wound close to or on the hands or feet can be serious because nerves, tendons, or ligaments are closer to the surface of the skin. Deep cuts near joints may damage the joint and increase the chance of an infection in the joint. Crush injuries can cause severe swelling, which may put pressure on nerves, tendons, and blood vessels.

Permanent disability may result if an injury to a nerve, tendon, ligament, or joint is not quickly detected and repaired.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised April 22, 2013

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 22, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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