The hand and wrist are essential to our everyday life, as the unique abilities of our hand and thumb differentiate us by allowing the execution fine motor movements. Fine motor skills enable us to use the small muscles in our hand and wrist to complete delicate and detailed tasks, while gross motor movements involve whole-body movements using the larger muscles in the arm.
The hand and wrist region is comprised of numerous small bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. The structural arrangement of the bones in the wrist includes:
- Radius and ulna: bones in the forearm
- Carpal bones: eight bones that create the wrist, connected to the radius and ulna
- Metacarpal bones: five bones in the middle of the hand
- Phalanges: 14 bones found in each of the fingers
Common Hand and Wrist Conditions
Since our hands and wrists are used so frequently in day-to-day life, this region of the body is highly susceptible to various injuries and conditions. Without a properly functioning hand and wrist, it can be very difficult to perform simple daily tasks.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist that protects the median nerve and the flexor tendons that pass through it. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tunnel narrows and pressure is placed on the median nerve. This abnormal pressure can cause:
- Decreased fine motor skills
- Pain and stiffness
- Burning or tingling sensation
- Gradual numbness
- Weak grip strength
Individuals who develop this condition often have a family history of carpal tunnel syndrome or perform repetitive motions of their hands and wrist that irritate the tendons over time. Since symptoms of this condition are usually exacerbated at night, wearing a brace or splint while sleeping may reduce pressure on the median nerve.
If you’re experiencing pain, tingling, or weakness in your wrist it could be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Take a quick quiz to find out if your wrist pain is caused by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A ganglion cyst is a benign mass or lump that most frequently develops on the wrist. Ganglion cysts commonly form between the ages of 15 and 40 and are more likely to affect women. Although their exact cause is unclear, these fluid-filled cysts tend to arise more frequently in athletes who apply repetitive stress on the wrist. Most of the time, these cysts are harmless; however, larger ones may place pressure on the nerves in the joint, leading to pain, tingling, or muscle weakness.
A sprained wrist occurs when the ligaments in your wrist are stretched beyond their limitations, sometimes resulting in small microtears. This injury may happen as a result of over-twisting your hand or wrist too much or from blunt trauma to the region. Signs that you may have sprained your wrist include pain, swelling, bruising, and a limited range of motion. Wrist sprains can be classified into three distinct grades:
- Grade 1: least severe sprain, when ligaments have been overextended without tearing
- Grade 2: when there is partial tearing of one or more of the ligaments
- Grade 3: most severe sprain, when the ligaments have completely ruptured or torn away from their attachment to the bone
Also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, this condition occurs when inflammation within the tendon sheath causes fingers to painfully lock when you bend them. A majority of the time, this condition is caused by repetitive stress, but you may be more likely to develop a trigger finger if you have diabetes, arthritis, or if you use excessive finger and thumb motions on a daily basis. In severe cases of trigger finger, your finger may completely lock up, meaning you cannot straighten it at all.
Treatments for Hand and Wrist Conditions
Upon diagnosis of one of the above hand and wrist conditions, your orthopedic specialist at Comprehensive Medical Care will usually recommend the use of nonsurgical treatment prior to opting for surgical intervention. Among the most commonly utilized conservative treatment options are:
- Physical therapy
- Corticosteroid injections
- Ice or heat application
- Pain management
- Compression and elevation
- Regenerative medicine
- Wrist immobilization
- Lifestyle changes
For more severe injuries and conditions affecting the hand and wrist, surgery may be necessary. Surgeries that Comprehensive Medical Care offers include:
- Ganglion cyst removal
- Wrist arthroscopy
- Endoscopic carpal tunnel release
- Tendon repair
- Trigger digit release
- Joint replacement