The hand is one of the most flexible and useful parts of our body. In the wrist, many small bones are connected to each other and help you perform various activities. Because of overuse of hand in various activities hands are more prone to injuries and you may suffer from sprains and strains; fractures when lifting and carrying heavy objects, hand injury while operating machinery, bracing against a fall, or sports-related injuries. Any injury to bones or the attached ligaments may cause pain and strain, thereby limiting the activities of hands and wrists. A broken wrist is among the most common broken injuries. Fracture is a break in the bone and sprain is the tear of the ligament, the connective tissue. Fracture or sprain limits the activities of hand and may be corrected.
The common injuries of hand include:
- Sprains and strains: Sprains and strains are the two most common types of injuries affecting the hand and wrist. A sprain refers to an injury to a ligament and a strain refers to a muscle injury. Sprains and strains occur due to excessive force applied during a stretching, twisting, or thrusting action. Most sprains and strains will repair themselves with adequate rest, ice application, compression, and elevation. Surgery is occasionally required to repair the damage.
- Ligamentous injuries: Ligaments are tissues that connect bones to other bones. They are made up of several fibers and one or all of the fibers may be involved. Complete ligament injury occurs when all the fibers are torn. Ligament injury may cause pain and swelling and limit the movement of hands and wrist joints. Ligament injury is effectively treated with splinting and taping with restriction of movement of injured structures.
- Fractures: A fracture is a break in the bone, occurs when more force than the bearable limit is applied against a bone. Crushing injuries to the hand or wrist occurring due to high degree of force or pressure may also cause fractures. A fracture may cause severe pain, swelling, bruising or bleeding, discoloration of the skin and limit the mobility of the limb. Fracture of a finger bone can only be treated by using a cast or splint while the bone heals. Sometimes surgery may be needed where the plates, pins or screws may be placed to keep the stable.
- Repetitive trauma syndrome: Repetitive stress injury occurs as a result of repeated similar movements for longer periods of time. This often causes pressure on the joints resulting in inflammation, pain, and decreased function in the extremity. The condition is more likely to develop with repetitive, rapid, forceful and prolonged movements of the hand and wrist, or vibration or frequent pushing, pulling or carrying heavy objects. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common of these syndromes.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition characterized by numbness or pain in the thumb and first two fingers and occurs when the median nerve is compressed at the wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome is often a common complaint in individuals who use their hands for prolonged period of time in particular occupation. Immobilization of the affected part for certain period may help heal the condition. Medications, physical therapy, and surgery may also be recommended. Often, splinting for a shorter period of time can treat the condition.
- Traumatic injuries of the hand: Traumatic nerve injury occurs from trauma such as sharp cuts by glass, breaking of major nerves while stretching, compression due to sitting in cramped postures, and penetrating wound such as with gunshots. Any injury to the peripheral nerve results in the loss of motor and sensory function. During surgeries, accidental damage to the large nerves such as motor nerves can result in loss of movement and sensation. Pain is the most common symptom in traumatic nerve injuries and individuals may also experience weakness and numbness.
Symptomatic treatments include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids. Severe injuries necessitate surgery.