Rehab with Results

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

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

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

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.

Brachial Plexus Injuries

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that sends signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand. Damage to the brachial plexus can cause symptoms such as

  • A limp or paralyzed arm
  • Lack of muscle control in the arm, hand, or wrist
  • Lack of feeling or sensation in the arm or hand

Brachial plexus injuries can happen because of shoulder trauma, tumors, or inflammation. Sometimes they happen during childbirth when a baby's shoulders become stuck during delivery and the nerves stretch or tear.

Some brachial plexus injuries may heal without treatment. Many children who are injured during birth improve or recover by 3 to 4 months of age. Treatment includes physical therapy and, in some cases, surgery.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Sports Injuries

Exercising is good for you, but sometimes you can injure yourself when you play sports or exercise. Accidents, poor training practices, or improper gear can cause them. Some people get hurt because they are not in shape. Not warming up or stretching enough can also lead to injuries.

The most common sports injuries are

  • Sprains and strains
  • Knee injuries
  • Swollen muscles
  • Achilles tendon injuries
  • Pain along the shin bone
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Dislocations

If you get hurt, stop playing. Continuing to play or exercise can cause more harm. Treatment often begins with the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) method to relieve pain, reduce swelling, and speed healing. Other possible treatments include pain relievers, keeping the injured area from moving, rehabilitation, and sometimes surgery.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases