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Common HAND INJURIES, Prevention & Treatment

There are so many things that we do with our hands that we take for granted until we experience a hand injury or condition that disrupts our daily activities.  Sprains, fractures or arthritis are common.  Numbness, tingling or weakness in your hand can also be symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) which is sometimes confused with arthritis.

As quoted in the October, 2018 issue of Buckeye LifeStyle, Dr. Paul Cook states, “Although arthritis pain and CTS pain can overlap, one way to tell the difference is arthritis pain comes with activity, and CTS pain will be at night time. CTS pain in your thumb, index and middle finger will wake you  up at night.”

To read the entire article, click  Healthy Hands Buckeye LifeStyle .

SPRAIN Hand Injuries

Sprains occur when there is damage to ligaments. A ligament is a type of tissue that connects bone to bone. There are different grades of sprains, from a minor tear to a complete rupture. Treatment and recovery time will depend on the grade of sprain. Some common sprains are:

THUMB SPRAIN:  This can occur when breaking a fall with the palm of the hand or playing sports like football and basketball. The ulnar collateral ligament may be sprained. This ligament helps the thumb function properly when grasping items.

WRIST SPRAINS: It is natural to put one’s hand out when falling forward; however, this causes the wrist to bend backward and may tear ligaments connecting bones to the wrist.

FRACTURE Hand Injuries

Bones can be fractured (a crack or break) and dislocated (pushed out of place) very easily in the hand and wrist area. Because there are so many tiny bones located in the hand and wrist, what might seem like a slight discomfort could actually be the result of a break.

METACARPALS:  The most common fracture of the metacarpals (the bones in your hand just before your knuckles) is referred to as a boxer’s fracture. A boxer’s fracture usually occurs when an object is struck with a closed fist. With a boxer’s fracture, the fifth metacarpal joint (the one at the base of the pinky finger) is depressed and the surrounding tissue is left tender and swollen.

SCAPHOID FRACTURES: Scaphoid fractures account for many wrist fractures. The scaphoid bone is one of eight small bones that make up the wrist, and this type of fracture is common in sports and motor vehicle injuries. The angle at which the wrist hits the ground determines the type of injury is not obvious at first because there is little swelling and deformity. People may just think they have a sprained wrist.

JOINT DISLOCATION Hand Injuries

One of the most common injuries to the hand is an injury to the joint above the knuckle, the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint. Injuries to the PIP joint occur when the finger is either hyperextended (forced backward) or forced into flexion (downward into a bent position). Injuries to the PIP joint may include fractures, dislocations or both.

The best ways to prevent hand, wrist, and upper extremity injuries:

WRIST GUARDS:  These may help prevent bone fractures and hand scrapes when a person falls or slides .

GLOVES:  These will help protect hands if the palm suffers a direct blow. In addition to protecting nerves, gloves can also protect the skin from direct wounds and cuts.

WARM-UP:  Before playing sports or working an eight hour, physically intense work shift, add a warm-up routine with stretching to help improve flexibility.

How to detect a hand injury or wrist injury:
  • Severe pain
  • Severe swelling
  • Numbness
  • Coldness or grayness in the finger, hand, or wrist
  • Abnormal twisting or bending of the finger or hand
  • A clicking, grating, or shifting noise when moving a finger, hand, or wrist
  • Bleeding that does not slow and persists for more than 15 minutes
What to do if a hand injury occurs:

RICE: For minor hand injuries, home treatment consisting of REST, ICE, COMPRESSION, and ELEVATION of the affected limb can help relieve pain, swelling and stiffness. For hand injuries that are more severe, those affected should seek professional medical attention as quickly as possible.

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