Your hands are used for hundreds of things every day. Because of this, it's not a rarity to experience at least one kind of hand injury in your lifetime. This is especially true if you're often playing sports or engaging in activities that rely on the dexterity of your fingers.
There are dozens of types of hand injuries. Whether you're suffering from a common injury or a more serious injury, it's important to recognize the signs and symptoms that come along with them. In this article, we'll be going over eight of the most common hand injuries.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome (also known as CTS) is a common condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and arm. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel—a narrow passageway in the wrist—is compressed or pinched.
This can be caused by a variety of factors, including repetitive movements of the hand (like typing or using a mouse), certain health conditions (like diabetes or arthritis), or even wrist anatomy and pregnancy.
Prevention of CTS primarily focuses on reducing the stress on your wrists and hands. This can be achieved by taking frequent breaks from repetitive tasks, maintaining proper form and posture, and using equipment designed to reduce strain on your hands and wrists.
In many cases, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can be relieved with non-surgical methods. This includes things like wearing a wrist splint, particularly at night, or taking over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce inflammation and swelling. Physical therapy exercises can also help strengthen the wrist and hand muscles to alleviate symptoms. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be required to relieve pressure on the median nerve.
Tendon Injuries (Like Mallet Finger)
Tendon injuries, such as mallet finger, are generally caused by sudden force applied to the finger. This can happen to anyone when an object hits and forces the tip of a finger or thumb, causing it to bend further than it is intended to go. As a result, damage is inflicted on the extensor tendon, which is responsible for straightening the finger.
The force that causes such an injury can result from everyday activities such as tucking in a bedsheet or catching a ball incorrectly, particularly in sports like baseball or basketball.
Preventing tendon injuries involves taking precautions during activities that put your hands at risk. If you want to avoid permanent damage and the potential for the injury to require surgery, it's advised that you seek medical attention for tendon injuries as soon as possible.
Ligaments connect the hand's many bones and help stabilize the joints. A sudden blow or an awkward twist can cause these ligaments to stretch or tear, leading to pain, swelling, and limited mobility. Usually, this kind of damage happens when someone takes a fall forward onto the hand.
Treatment will often start with conservative approaches like rest, ice, compression, and elevation - commonly known as the RICE method. This can be combined with over-the-counter pain relievers to alleviate discomfort. If problems persist, it is advisable to receive medical treatment, and potentially attend one or more physical therapy sessions.
Dislocations of the hand and wrist are some of the most common injuries you might experience. A dislocation occurs when one or more of the bones in the hand shift from their original position, resulting in pain and swelling. These types of hand injuries happen through a direct blow to the wrist area or an awkward twisting motion.
If you've just dislocated your hand, it might be time for a trip to the emergency room. A medical provider can perform a procedure known as a reduction, which gently guides the dislocated bone back into its normal position. If it was badly displaced, then you might have to receive a splint or cast for some time to prevent further movement. You might also require physical therapy to help with recovery time, but the proper treatment plan for a dislocation varies from case to case.
Hand Fractures (Like Boxer's Fracture)
Hand and wrist fractures refer to the breaks or cracks in one or more bones in the hand — typically the metacarpal bones, which connect the wrist to the fingers. This type of injury often occurs from a direct blow to the hand, or when the hand is used to break a fall. The name 'Boxer's Fracture' comes from the common scenario where the hand is injured during a punching action, although this hand fracture can result from any impact that applies excessive force.
Most fractures require a treatment of immobilization, whether that's a splint or cast. Depending on the severity of the fracture, you may require hand surgery to properly align and stabilize the bones. Hand fractures (and wrist fractures) are certainly among the types that require immediate medical attention.
A fairly straightforward type of hand injury, broken bones are a common experience that often stems from simple misfortune. You can receive a broken bone in your hand, or a broken finger, by doing anything from slamming it in a car door to getting a frisbee thrown your way a bit too vigorously.
That being said, having broken hands with a large number of broken bones is a much more complex kind of injury. In the more severe cases where the entire hand has been impacted, surgery might be necessary to properly align the two pieces of the bone.
Stenosing Tenosynovitis (AKA Trigger Finger)
stenosing tenosynovitis, commonly known as trigger finger, is a condition that affects the tendons in the fingers or thumb. This condition can cause one or more fingers to lock or catch in a bent position. The cause of Trigger Finger is often unknown, but it is believed to be due to overuse or strenuous activities involving the hand.
If you believe to be suffering from Trigger Finger, check your medical history- certain medical conditions such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis are also associated with a higher risk of developing this common injury.
Treatments for Trigger Finger range from rest and splinting to injections of anti-inflammatory medication. In more severe or persistent cases, surgery might be necessary to widen the tendon sheath and allow the tendon to move more freely.
Carpometacarpal (CMC) Joint Deterioration
Carpometacarpal (CMC) joint deterioration is a medical condition where the cartilage in the CMC joint of the thumb begins to wear out or deteriorate. This joint is a very important one, as it is essential for daily activities like the ability to pinch or grasp items. Commonly caused by regular wear and tear, this condition is often associated with aging, but can also be accelerated by injuries or overuse.
Treatment of CMC joint deterioration includes the typical conservative methods of splinting, plenty of water, and over-the-counter pain medication. More advanced cases might require corticosteroid injections to relieve inflammation and pain. Of course, like any other hand injury, the right treatment course varies from person to person.
Get Help For Your Hand Injuries
If you've been experiencing any of the listed symptoms, it's imperative that you receive a physical exam from a qualified medical professional immediately. Sports Medicine & Joint Replacement Specialists is a quick and reliable option.