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Understanding the most common conditions of the hand and wrist

We use our hands and wrists for just about everything we do. They often bear the brunt of our day-to-day activities - from typing on a keyboard, to swiping on our phones, to gripping a steering wheel, to playing sports, to caring for ourselves, our kids, and our pets.

So, when a medical issue or injury occurs that limits the use of our hands and wrists, “toughing out the pain” might be easier said than done.

Wondering what some of the most common conditions and injuries of the hand and wrist injuries are? Below is a list of six, based on what the hand and wrist specialists at Beebe are seeing time and time again.

  1. Sprains and strains: Sprains involve injury or damage to the ligaments in the hand or wrist, while strains affect the muscles or tendons. These injuries often result from sudden movements; for example, when you fall and try to catch yourself with your hands. These injuries typically result in pain, swelling, and difficulty moving your hand.
  2. Fractures/broken bone: Broken bones in the wrist or hand happen most frequently as a result of a fall or during sports or other high-impact activities. Fractured or broken bones typically result in immediate pain, swelling, and bruising in the affected area, and should be assessed by a hand specialist right away. X-rays will be needed to confirm a bone break and provide doctors with significant insight as they determine the patient’s most ideal plan of care.
  3. Finger dislocation: If you have ever shut a door on your hand or jammed the tip of your finger, you understand the level of pain that follows. A finger dislocation is a serious injury. It is typically caused by a hard fall or something coming in contact with the finger that bends it in an unnatural angle. When this happens, bones are forced out of alignment at one of the joints, resulting in the finger looking crooked and swollen.
  4. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common condition that is the result of pressure being placed on the median nerve as it crosses from the arm into the hand. This nerve gives you feeling in your hand and fingers. Compression of the median nerve can result in pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hands and fingers that interferes with activities of everyday living.
  5. Tendonitis: Tendonitis, or inflammation of the tendons, typically occurs in the hand and wrist due to repetitive motions or overuse. Typing, using heavy machinery, or even lifting a child several times a day (sometimes referred to as “mommy wrist”) can lead to symptoms of tendonitis such as pain, swelling, and stiffness that radiates down the arm through the wrists and hands. Certain health conditions like diabetes, thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus can also increase the likeliness that you will experience tendonitis.
  6. Trigger Finger: This condition affects the tendons that allow your fingers to smoothly bend or straighten. Trigger Finger causes one of your fingers to get stuck or lock into a “bent” position. Straightening it can be difficult and painful. Inflammation or swelling in the tendons of your hand and fingers are the leading causes of Trigger Finger. Repetitive activities and some chronic health conditions like diabetes and thyroid disease can also aggravate the problem.

Understanding what these medical conditions and injuries are, and seeking prompt medical attention when you see the signs and symptoms, is important. Acting quickly can expedite the healing process and prevent long-term complications. Most hand specialists will pursue conservative, non-surgical approaches to care first. But they will also know if surgery is your best course of action and will ultimately recommend a plan of care suited to your specific condition, injury, or needs.

Talk to your primary care provider today about a possible referral, or visit our Orthopaedic Services Page to learn more.