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Best Physical Therapy's Health Information Library

Here, we have gathered health articles on almost every major subject in healthcare. Please explore, enjoy, and share this free resource provided by Best Physical Therapy

Wrist Injuries and Disorders

Your wrist connects your hand to your forearm. It is not one big joint; it has several small joints. This makes it flexible and allows you to move your hand in different ways. The wrist has two big forearm bones and eight small bones known as carpals. It also has tendons and ligaments, which are connective tissues. Tendons connect muscles to bones. Ligaments connect bones to each other.

What are the types of wrist injuries and disorders?

Some of the more common types of wrist injuries and disorders are

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome, which happens when a nerve that runs from your forearm into your palm becomes squeezed at the wrist
  • Ganglion cysts, which are noncancerous lumps or masses
  • Gout, which is a form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in your joints
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis. It is caused by wear and tear of the joints.
  • Sprains and strains, which are injuries to ligaments and injuries to muscles or tendons
  • Tendinitis, inflammation of a tendon, usually due to overuse
Who is at risk for wrist injuries and disorders?

Certain things can put you at higher risk of having a wrist problem, including

  • Doing sports, which can put you at risk for injuries and puts stress on your wrist. For example, you may fall on your outstretched hand when you are skating or snowboarding. Your wrist could be injured while doing contact sports. And other sports such as gymnastics and basketball can strain your wrists.
  • Doing repetitive wrist motions, such as typing on a keyboard, working on an assembly line, or using power tools.
  • Having certain diseases. For example, rheumatoid arthritis can cause wrist pain.
What are the symptoms of wrist injuries and disorders?

The symptoms of a wrist problem can vary, depending on the problem. A common symptom is wrist pain. Some other possible symptoms include swelling, a decrease in wrist strength, and sudden numbness or tingling.

How are wrist injuries and disorders diagnosed?

Your health care provider may use many tools to make a diagnosis:

  • A medical history, which includes asking about your symptoms
  • A physical exam, including checking your wrist strength and range of motion
  • An x-ray or other imaging test
  • Blood tests
What are the treatments for wrist injuries and disorders?

Treatments for wrist pain depends on the type of injury or disorder. They may include

  • Resting your wrist
  • Wearing a wrist brace or cast
  • Pain relievers
  • Cortisone shots
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery
Can wrist injuries and disorders be prevented?

To try to prevent wrist problems, you can

  • Use wrist guards, when doing sports that put you at risk for wrist injuries
  • In the workplace, perform stretching exercises and take frequent rest breaks. You should also pay attention to ergonomics to make sure that you are using the proper wrist position while working.
  • Make sure that you get enough calcium and vitamin D to keep your bones strong

Arm Injuries and Disorders

Of the 206 bones in your body, three of them are in your arm: the humerus, radius, and ulna. Your arms are also made up of muscles, joints, tendons, and other connective tissue. Injuries to any of these parts of the arm can occur during sports, a fall, or an accident.

Types of arm injuries include

  • Tendinitis and bursitis
  • Sprains
  • Dislocations
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Nerve problems
  • Osteoarthritis

You may also have problems or injure specific parts of your arm, such as your hand, wrist, elbow, or shoulder.

Bursitis

A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between a bone and other moving parts, such as muscles, tendons, or skin. Bursitis occurs when a bursa becomes inflamed. People get bursitis by overusing a joint. It can also be caused by an injury. It usually occurs at the knee or elbow. Kneeling or leaning your elbows on a hard surface for a long time can make bursitis start. Doing the same kinds of movements every day or putting stress on joints increases your risk.

Symptoms of bursitis include pain and swelling. Your doctor will diagnose bursitis with a physical exam and tests such as x-rays and MRIs. He or she may also take fluid from the swollen area to be sure the problem isn't an infection.

Treatment of bursitis includes rest, pain medicines, or ice. If there is no improvement, your doctor may inject a drug into the area around the swollen bursa. If the joint still does not improve after 6 to 12 months, you may need surgery to repair damage and relieve pressure on the bursa.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Finger Injuries and Disorders

You use your fingers and thumbs to do everything from grasping objects to playing musical instruments to typing. When there is something wrong with them, it can make life difficult. Common problems include

  • Injuries that result in fractures (broken bones), ruptured ligaments and dislocations
  • Osteoarthritis - wear-and-tear arthritis. It can also cause deformity.
  • Tendinitis - irritation of the tendons
  • Dupuytren's contracture - a hereditary thickening of the tough tissue that lies just below the skin of your palm. It causes the fingers to stiffen and bend.
  • Trigger finger - an irritation of the sheath that surrounds the flexor tendons. It can cause the tendon to catch and release like a trigger.

Hand Injuries and Disorders

No matter how old you are or what you do for a living, you are always using your hands. When there is something wrong with them, you may not be able to do your regular activities.

Hand problems include

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome - compression of a nerve as it goes through the wrist, often making your fingers feel numb
  • Injuries that result in fractures (broken bones), ruptured ligaments and dislocations
  • Osteoarthritis - wear-and-tear arthritis, which can also cause deformity
  • Tendinitis - irritation of the tendons
  • Disorders and injuries of your fingers and thumb