What Is Ring Avulsion? Injury Causes & Prevention

Shannon Capri // Lead Columnist & Senior Editor

We may earn a commission through carefully selected links on this site. However, this never influences our evaluations or writing – our opinions are 100% our own.

Ring avulsion is a potential danger to anyone wearing a metal ring, and in more severe cases can be a life-changing injury…

Most people wear at least one traditional metal ring on a day-to-day basis, whether it be a wedding band, heirloom, or for fashion, and think nothing of it. However, ring avulsion is a potential danger to anyone wearing a metal ring, and in more severe cases can be a life-changing injury.

But what exactly is ring avulsion and how can it be prevented without compromising your choice to wear a ring?

What is Ring Avulsion?

Ring avulsion happens when a metal ring is caught on an object and is pulled off your finger very suddenly. This force from the ring can result in anything from a bad rub to an amputated finger, as well as ‘degloving’, which we will talk about later, where the finger tissue is stripped away from the bone.

How Common is Ring Avulsion?

Thankfully, although ring avulsion is always possible, it is not common. In fact, data suggests that there are only 150,000 reported cases of ring avulsion globally per year. (Still, wouldn’t want to be one of those!)

How Does Ring Avulsion Happen?

Ring avulsion happens when a metal ring on your finger is caught on an object, such as machinery or furniture, and is pulled off your finger particularly forcefully. This is more common in industries that use metal machinery, especially if these machines run at high speeds, however it can happen on pretty much any object you reach for when falling as your bodyweight pulling you to the floor creates a strong force.

Can a Ring Really Damage Your Finger?

The mildest form of injury from a ring on your finger is known as contusion. This is where the pressure from the ring can bruise your finger tissue or possibly damage blood vessels, but this sort of injury is not serious.

In slightly more serious cases of avulsion, a ring can cut part of your finger (there’s a reason metal is used to make cutting tools), and in very severe cases the ring can strip off your skin, along with the blood vessels and tendons, right down to the bone, along the length of your finger. This is what is known as degloving.

Jimmy Fallon’s Ring Avulsion Injury

Jimmy Fallon, the popular late-night host of ‘The Tonight Show’, brought ring avulsion to everyone’s attention in 2015 when he acquired one of these injuries in his home.

Fallon’s wedding ring got caught on the edge of a counter top he reached out for when he tripped on a rug in his kitchen, and the ring pulled his finger away from the rest of his hand although it was not fully amputated.

Consequently, he required microsurgery that put him in the operating room for over six hours and had to spend ten days in the intensive care unit.

Jimmy was required to wear a cast on his ring finger for weeks after he was discharged from hospital and didn’t get the feeling back in the injured finger for eight weeks.

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What is the difference between ring avulsion and degloving?

What is Degloving? Is it the Same as Ring Avulsion?

As mentioned briefly above, degloving is the same as ring avulsion but the most severe form.

What causes degloving?

Degloving is caused when the top layers of your skin, and the tissue beneath, are torn from the muscle, tendons, or bone underneath. This type of injury is particularly serious as it can lead to a huge amount of blood loss and the potential of tissue death.

Can a Degloved finger be fixed?

Whether a degloved finger can actually be fixed depends entirely on the severity of the injury. Not all hospitals can handle the complex microsurgery required to repair the finger, and you may not have any hospital near enough to you that is equipped. If you have to wait too long to treat the degloving the tissue is likely to die.

When the degloved finger has been fixed you might need to stay in the hospital for days, or weeks, depending on the injury and you may need to follow that up with extensive physical therapy sessions.

"

How to prevent ring avulsion injuries & keep your fingers safe

How to Prevent Ring Avulsion Injuries

Of course, the way to guarantee you won’t be afflicted by ring avulsion is to just not wear a ring at all, but this is definitely not an option for everyone.

Make sure you do not wear rings that are slightly too large for your finger as these are more likely to get caught on objects due to the open space, so just ensure that your rings are the right fit for your finger, it is well worth getting them resized if you need to.

Always take off your rings if you are working with any kind of machinery or before playing sports or using exercise equipment. Especially when you are playing team sports, they often require you to run and there is always the potential that your ring will be caught on another player and ripped off your finger that way.

But, the best option is to switch to a silicone or rubber ring.

Do Silicone Rings Prevent Ring Avulsion?

Silicone wedding bands are made specifically to prevent ring avulsion as they break apart if they are pulled hard or put under any kind of stress. This means that your finger is completely safe, and the worst that can happen is a slight bruise from any impact.

They are super lightweight and flexible and come in many different colors and styles, even ones that will look just like traditional metal rings, without the potential risk of injury.

“With over 150,000 annual cases of ring avulsion injuries, it may be time to ‘downgrade’ to a safe silicone wedding ring.”

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Ring avulsion injury treatment & average recovery time

How is Avulsion Treated?

There are three treatment options for avulsion dependent on the severity of the injury:

1

Class I

Blood is still circulating through the finger – you may just need your finger tissues and bones repaired

2

Class II

Blood isn’t circulating through your finger – may need to have the blood vessels reconnected before any tissue or bone can be repaired

3

Class III

The finger has been completely stripped of tissue down to the bone, or amputated – surgeons may be able to reattach the finger or the vessels, but you will probably not be able to use your finger as well as before

How Long Does it Take for an Avulsion to Heal?

As with treatment, the healing time of avulsion injuries depends on the specific case. If your finger bone was broken, you will need to wear a cast for at least several weeks for the bone to reset. If your finger was just cut open you may only need stitches to sew up the cut, and the injury should heal within several weeks.

If you need to have microsurgery, due to a Class III injury as a result of severe avulsion, this surgery can take more than a few hours and the finger will need at least a month of recovery before it can even begin to be used again.

Generally, recovery will take several months before the bone resets fully and any cuts or stitches heal. You should be able to resume normal activities with your finger in 5 to 10 weeks, but if you have had microsurgery it may be longer.

In some cases, your finger will never heal to how it was before the injury. If you have nerve damage, it is likely you will not be able to feel or sense temperatures as well as you could before, or if your bones or tendons were injured, you may not be able to move your finger to the full range of motion ever again.

Closing Thoughts

Although not very common, ring avulsion is something that all ring wearers should be aware of, and you should seriously think about switching to silicone rings, the safest possible option.

2 Comments

  1. Rodney Hop

    Wow, I learned a lot from this article about ring avulsion…never even knew it was a problem!!!

    Reply
  2. Alphone Restep

    I am always able to find good info from your articles.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Rodney Hop

    Wow, I learned a lot from this article about ring avulsion…never even knew it was a problem!!!

    Reply
  2. Alphone Restep

    I am always able to find good info from your articles.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 Comments

  1. Rodney Hop

    Wow, I learned a lot from this article about ring avulsion…never even knew it was a problem!!!

    Reply
  2. Alphone Restep

    I am always able to find good info from your articles.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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