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Hand & Wrist Care

When patients suffer from injuries or pain to the hand or wrist, getting the right treatment is crucial. As one uses their hand and wrist in almost every move you make, our orthopedic and sports medicine physicians promise to administer the proper treatment for a quick recovery and improved quality of life. Treatment can include, but is not limited to, surgery, home therapy, physical therapy, or medical management.

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Causes of Hand & Wrist Pain

  • Fractures
  • Arthritis
  • Tendonitis
  • Nerve Injuries
  • Repetitive Work

Symptoms of Hand & Wrist Pain

  • Pain while making a fist or holding an object
  • Local swelling or bruising
  • Unable to move fingers or wrist
  • Pain ranging from forearm to fingers
  • Tingling or numbness in fingers

Common Conditions Explained

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is essentially a pinched nerve in the wrist. There is a space in the wrist called the carpal tunnel where the median nerve and nine tendons pass from the forearm into the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when swelling in this tunnel puts pressure on the nerve. 1

Trigger Finger

Stenosing tenosynovitis is a condition commonly known as “trigger finger”. It is sometimes also called “trigger thumb”. The tendons that bend the fingers glide easily with the help of pulleys. These pulleys hold the tendons close to the bone. This is similar to how a line is held on a fishing rod. Trigger finger occurs when the pulley becomes too thick, so the tendon cannot glide easily through it. 2

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that involves pressure or stretching of the ulnar nerve (also known as the “funny bone” nerve), which can cause numbness or tingling in the ring and small fingers, pain in the forearm, and/or weakness in the hand. The ulnar nerve runs in a groove on the inner side of the elbow. 3

Basilar Thumb Arthritis

A joint is where bones connect and move. Arthritis is thinning of the cartilage, which is the smooth covering of the joint. The body reacts to loss of the joint surface by forming bone spurs (osteophytes). Arthritis at the base of the thumb is a genetic predisposition: like graying and thinning of the hair, it comes with age and it shows up earlier in some families. Unlike thinning of the hair, women tend to get thumb arthritis sooner than men do. 4

De Quervain’s Tendonitis

Patients with de Quervain syndrome have painful tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. Tendons are the ropes that the muscle uses to pull the bone. You can see them on the back of your hand when you straighten your fingers. In de Quervain syndrome, the tunnel where the tendons run narrows due to the thickening of the soft tissues that make up the tunnel. Hand and thumb motion cause pain, especially with forceful grasping or twisting. 5

Ganglion Cysts

Ganglion cysts are very common lumps within the hand and wrist that occur adjacent to joints or tendons. The most common locations are the top of the wrist, the palm side of the wrist, the base of the finger on the palm side, and the top of the end joint of the finger. The ganglion cyst often resembles a water balloon on a stalk, and is filled with clear fluid or gel. 6

Mallet Finger

A mallet finger is a deformity of the finger caused when the tendon that straightens your finger (the extensor tendon) is damaged. When a ball or other object strikes the tip of the finger or thumb and forcibly bends it, the force tears the tendon that straightens the finger. The force of the blow may even pull away a piece of bone along with the tendon. The tip of the finger or thumb no longer straightens. This condition is sometimes referred to as baseball finger. 7

Finger Fractures

Although the bones in the hand are small, a broken (fractured) finger is not a minor injury. The bones in a normal hand line up precisely. They let you perform many specialized functions, such as grasping a pen or manipulating small objects in your palm. When you fracture a finger bone, it can cause your whole hand to be out of alignment. Without treatment, your broken finger might stay stiff and painful. 8

Distal Radius Fractures

A wrist fracture is a medical term for a broken wrist. The wrist is made up of eight small bones which connect with the two long forearm bones called the radius and ulna. Although a broken wrist can happen in any of these 10 bones, by far the most common bone to break is the radius. This is called a distal radius fracture by hand surgeons. 9

Hand & Wrist Patient Education

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1 American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Available: http://www.assh.org/handcare/Hand-Anatomy/Details-Page/articleId/27950

2 American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Available: http://www.assh.org/handcare/Hand-Anatomy/Details-Page/articleId/27938

3 American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Available: http://www.assh.org/handcare/hand-arm-conditions/cubital-tunnel

4 American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Available: http://www.assh.org/handcare/hand-arm-conditions/arthritis-base-of-thumb

5 American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Available: http://www.assh.org/handcare/hand-arm-conditions/de-quervain-syndrome

6 American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Available: http://www.assh.org/handcare/hand-arm-conditions/ganglion-cyst

7 American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Available: http://www.assh.org/handcare/hand-arm-conditions/mallet-finger

8 OrthoInfo. Available: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00257

9 American Society for Surgery of the Hand Available: http://www.assh.org/handcare/hand-arm-injuries/wrist-fractures