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When you pull up search results for freak medical accidents, The Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon’s 2015 ring avulsion incident frequently makes the list. Ring avulsion describes what happens when a ring is wrenched violently off the finger after snagging on an object. As it is torn from the finger, it can rip up and strip off tendons, muscles and bones along the way. Yeah, not a lot of fun, but these sort of freakish accidents can occasionally happen.

Before you panic, you should know that this type of finger avulsion is pretty rare and that most avulsion cases fall into the mild category. The worst cases, while more painful to look at (and suffer), only make headlines because of their rarity.  

If the idea of freak medical accidents freaks you out, rest assured that there is a reason that wedding rings are the trusted symbol of steadfast companionship. People have been wearing rings for a very long time now, and many people have never even heard the term ring avulsion. That should give you comfort, knowing just how rare of a finger injury it is. Do you know someone who’s suffered from that? We’re willing to bet the answer is “no.” 

If it makes you feel better, you can wait to read on until you’ve ordered one of those silicone wedding bands that stretches when it snags. Silicone wedding bands are great for a number of reasons, not just preventing hand surgery.

Shop All Our Silicone Wedding Bands

So, we’ve established the odds of you needing microsurgery for this kind of injury are extremely low. However, if you want to learn more about ring avulsion so that you can further reduce the likelihood of it happening to you, press ahead.

How Does Ring Avulsion Happen?

Depending on the profession you work in, soft tissue injuries caused by rings may be a type of injury you’re concerned about. For example, if you work with heavy machinery and your metal ring gets caught on a machine, it might not be able to break, thus causing this serious injury. Are you ever going to suffer a complete degloving, no matter the ring you’re wearing? Honestly, incredibly unlikely. However, if you work in a demanding environment, you definitely want a ring that breaks. 

Still with us? One of the worst-case scenarios is called “degloving.” We’re begging you not to do an image search on this. No, we’re seriously begging you. Let’s just say that it’s like struggling out of your winter gloves, only your finger is the glove. Again, that’s the extreme end of the ring injury spectrum. Just as there are three degrees of burns, there are three classes of ring avulsion. Class 1: Blood is still moving through the finger and fingertip. In Class 2, circulation through the finger has ceased, so the blood vessels might need to be surgically reconnected. Class 3 means that the finger has been stripped down to the bone, and extreme medical intervention (amputation, in some instances) may be necessary. As you might expect, mild Class 1 injuries are easily the most common.

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Severe cases are usually the product of a dangerous environment or intense activity rather than a property of the ring itself. High speeds and heavy metals ratchet up the risk factor. Scaling a chain-link fence or slamming home a vicious dunk. Operating heavy machinery on the factory floor or exercise equipment at your home gym. The kind of places where you should be already minding your shirt sleeves and shoelaces. If you know beforehand that you are going to be dipping your ring finger into danger, consider removing your ring as a precautionary measure. Amputated fingers don’t wear rings particularly well, so we’re gonna go out on a limb and say your partner won’t mind you appearing outwardly single for safety reasons.

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How to Prevent a Ring Avulsion Injury

Wearing rings that are incredibly durable can actually be the issue if you work a trade job or something equally demanding. Do you really need to be concerned about a complete amputation of your finger? The odds on that one are pretty astronomical. Could you suffer an injury that affects your finger’s future range of motion? Maybe. However, if your ring can break away in a dangerous situation, you’re much more likely to avoid Class II injuries. 

On the other hand, as Fallon can testify, even a braided rug and a countertop can become a dangerous environment and it's easy to forget to remove a ring that sits so naturally on your finger. Accidents happen. Owning designated rings for working out, like the silicone rings we mentioned earlier, give you an added layer of protection. Not to mention a more comfortable fit and an easier clean. That’s why so many medical professionals, like the doctors who provide ring avulsion diagnoses, are wearing silicone rings as well.

Discover When Exactly to Take Off an Engagement Ring