Hand and Wrist Injuries

Hand and wrist injuries are common and account for a large number of visits to the Emergency Department every year. Because we use our hands and wrists to do most everything, injuries are especially disruptive to getting on with everyday life.

When an injury does occur, prompt medical attention is recommended to minimize the short and long-term effects on the hand. Since the hand consists of 27 bones (including the 8 bones of the wrist), and the associated structures of nerves, arteries, veins, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joint cartilage, and fingernails there is an increased potential for a variety of injuries. To reduce this risk, proper medical evaluation is warranted for even the smallest hand injuries.

What Are The Most Common Hand and Wrist Injuries?

The most common hand and wrist injuries include:

● Amputation and Detachments
● Arthritis
Carpal Bone Fracture
● Crushing injury
● Cut Finger
● Cut hand
De Quervain’s Tendonitis (wrist and thumb pain)
● Fingernail Injury
● Finger Dislocation
● Finger Fracture
● Hand fracture
● Hand Pain
● Hand sprain
● Scaphoid Fracture

Tendonitis
● Wrist Dislocation
● Wrist Fracture

What Causes Most Hand and Wrist Injuries?

● Lacerations (cuts)
● Fractures and Dislocations
● Soft Tissue Injuries and Amputations
● Infections
● Burns
● High-Pressure Injuries (grease and paint guns)

What Are The Top Causes of On-the-Job Hand and Wrist Injuries?

The three most common causes of on-the-job hand and wrist injuries include:

Overuse. Repetitive movements and tasks can lead to overuse injuries that can be painful and long-lasting.
Falls. Putting out your hand to break a fall often results in damage to the hand and wrist, including sprained wrist and broken bones.
Crushing accidents. Construction workers or those who work with heavy machinery face the risk of a crushing accident to the hands and fingers that sometimes result in amputation.

What Are Typical Symptoms For Hand and Wrist Injuries?

In general, symptoms for hand and wrist injuries can vary depending on the type of injury, the mechanism of injury, the severity, and location.

Common symptoms range from:

● Broken skin and bleeding
● Pain and swelling in the injured area
● Limb or joint looks odd, in a strange shape or out of its normal position
● Numbness, tingling or a pins-and-needles feeling
● Pale, white, blue or cold skin on the injured limb
● Not being able to move the limb normally because of weakness (not just pain)
● Localized warmth and redness
● Red streaks leading from the injured area
● Fever

If you experience any of these symptoms or a combination of them, you should seek medical care immediately.

Why Is It Important to Get Hand and Wrist Injuries Treated Right Away?

Most hand and wrist injuries can be treated non-surgically if treated right away. Quick treatment helps to prevent infection or significant loss of function. If such injuries are ignored and left untreated, the condition can worsen and may require surgical treatment to restore function.

How Are Hand and Wrist Injuries Diagnosed?

When you arrive at Go To Ortho, your medical evaluation may include a medical history and physical exam.

Your doctor may ask you questions such as:

● Are you a diabetic or do you have arthritis?
● Are you right or left-handed?
● How do you use your hands (occupation, extracurricular activities, and hobbies)?
● How did the injury occur?

Your physical exam may include as:

● Visual inspection (look at the injury)
● Sensory nerve exam (feeling)
● Vascular exam (circulation of blood supply)
● Muscular and tendon exam (movement and strength)
● Bone exam (broken bones or dislocated joints)

Your doctor may also order x-rays to identify fractures or dislocations or to rule out foreign bodies.

What Can You Do for Hand and Wrist Injuries?

Before seeking medical treatment, home care for hand and wrist injuries initially involves proper first aid techniques, such as

Lacerations (Cuts):

● Apply pressure to the wound to stop bleeding.
● Wash dirt or debris from the wound, if possible.
● Cover the wound to prevent further contamination of injury.
● Do not remove large foreign bodies such as nails, hooks, or knives.
● Seek medical attention.

Fractures (Broken Bones) and Dislocations:

● Immobilize or splint the hand if possible.
● Cover the injury if the bone is exposed (open fracture) with a clean towel, cloth, or gauze.
● Apply ice for 20 minutes at a time to decrease the pain. Do not apply ice directly to the skin. Cover ice with a towel.
● Seek medical attention.

Soft Tissue Injuries and Amputations:

● Apply pressure to stop bleeding
● Cover the injury with a damp bandage, if possible.
● Elevate the hand above the heart to reduce bleeding.
● Retrieve the amputated body part, if possible. Cover the amputated body part, keep it damp, and place the part near ice to cool. Do not place the body part in direct contact with ice in order to prevent freezing.
● Seek medical attention.

Infections:

● Keep the injury clean and dry.
● Seek medical attention.

Burns:

● Thermal Burn – cool with water (not ice), then cover the injury.
● Chemical Burn – irrigate with lots of water, then cover the injury.
● Frostbite – rewarm with a warm-water bath or soak, then cover the injury.
● Seek medical attention.

How Are Hand and Wrist Injuries Treated?

The type of treatment you may need for any hand and wrist injury usually depends on the type and cause of injury. For example, for a laceration, your doctor will evaluate for depth or involvement of nerves, arteries, muscles, and tendons. For a dislocation, the doctor will evaluate to ensure there are no fractures. Dislocated bones must be put back in place with the goal of treatment being to preserve the function and stability of the joint. Whatever the final assessment, your doctor will know best how to treat the injury.

Whether you need splinting, casting, or stitches, we can provide this immediate care to you at Go To Ortho. While mild hand or wrist injuries will heal with treatment, more severe injuries may require surgery. If your injury requires surgery, one of our surgeons (or affiliated surgeons) can perform the surgery at any one of a number of area hospitals.

Contact Us

Come see us for any hand or wrist injuries. At Go To Ortho, both Dr. Madey and Dr. Frome specialize in hand and microvascular surgery.

You may book your appointment online, walk-in, or call us at (503) 850-9950.