Hand, Wrist, and Forearm

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This is a common source of hand numbness and pain. The carpal tunnel, a narrow structure in the wrist, carries several nerves into the hand. Increased pressure on a nerve entering through the tunnel may cause this numbness and pain. Other causes include heredity, hand use over time, repetitive motions using the wrist, hormonal changes, or medical conditions like diabetes. Sometimes, there is no known cause.

Symptoms begin gradually and experiencing numbness/tingling and pain in the hand are common. If caught early, carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated without surgery. Wearing a brace at night to keep the wrist in a natural position and a splint during the day are common practice. Anti-inflammatory medicines may also be recommended. Surgery is recommended on a case-by-case basis, considering the severity of the condition.

Distal Radius Fracture

This is a break in the larger of the two bones of the forearm. The end toward the wrist is called the distal end. Most distal radius fractures occur from a fall where someone tries to catch themselves with their hands outstretched. Car accidents, biking and skiing are all possible activities where this common injury may occur.

When the wrist is broken, you will feel immediate pain, tenderness, swelling, and bruising. The wrist my hang in a deformed manner, also.

Treatments include a cast for non-surgical procedures, or a surgery to correct extreme cases of bone displacement.

Mallet Finger (Baseball Finger)

When the extensor tendon of a finger is damaged, the deformity known as a mallet finger will occur. Also called baseball finger, as the most common cause of injury comes from a ball or other object striking the tip of the finger or thumb. This damages the thin tendon used to straighten the finger.

Usually, symptoms include a swollen, bruised finger that droops noticeably. Blood may collect beneath the nail; the nail may even detach from beneath the skin fold at its base.

For nonsurgical treatment, the application of ice should be immediate and then a splint may be applied to hold the fingertip straight, usually up to eight weeks. Surgical repair may be necessary for large fractures or major joint misalignment.

Wrist Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure used to diagnose and treat problems inside a joint. The wrist is made up of eight small bones and many connecting ligaments, making it a very complex joint where arthroscopy is a great asset.

Treatments performed using wrist arthroscopy include a number of conditions, like chronic wrist pain, wrist fractures, ganglion cysts, ligament tears, and carpal tunnel syndrome. After surgery, the wrist should be elevated for a few days, kept clean and dry, and ice should be used to control swelling.

Wrist Sprains

Typically, sprained wrists occur when patients fall on an outstretched hand, causing the ligaments in the wrist to stretch or tear. This type of injury is common in sports like football, volleyball, snowboarding, or baseball.

Physical Therapy is usually recommended. Treatment options begin with the RICE therapy, with recommendations for a wrist brace and rehabilitation exercises also common. In rare instances, surgery may be required to repair a torn ligament or if there is a bone fracture.

Ganglion Cyst

This is a lump of firm, spongy swelling in the wrist, found on the top of the joint bones or surrounding a tendon. There is no known cause, but women are more susceptible than man in getting ganglion cysts.

Presents with fluctuating wrist pain where constant movement reduces the pain felt. Treatment usually consists of sucking the fluids from the cyst, injecting corticosteroids for temporary relief, or surgery to remove the cyst altogether. Often, the cyst is not painful and no treatment is necessary.

Metacarpal Injuries

The metacarpals are the long bones found in the hand. These can be subject to many injuries, most commonly a fracture. This happens due to punching a solid object or falling on an outstretched thumb. Fractures in the fourth and fifth metacarpals are also called Boxer’s Fracture. Common treatment for a fracture is a splint worn for a few weeks.

Bursitis in the Hand-Wrist-Forearm

This is the term used for the inflammation of the bursa, a sac that decreases friction between joints moving in different directions. When the bursa becomes enflamed, any further use of it causes increased irritation. This condition arises from overuse of a repetitive movement or continuous and excessive pressure, like resting your elbows on a desktop for long periods of time.

There are many types of bursitis (elbow, knee, shoulder, hip, etc), but most diagnoses are consistent in that each show tenderness and swelling over the bursa along with pain during movement. Inflamed bursas carry a small chance of getting infected. If you experience open wounds around the area of bursitis, redness, or a fever/chills, contact a doctor immediately.

Treating bursitis is a matter of resting and protecting the affected area. Ice it down, take anti-inflammatory medicines to control swelling, with physical therapy & cortisone injections available for persistent cases. Physical rehab may be recommended for serious cases.

Tendonitis in the Hand-Wrist-Forearm

Tendons connect muscles to bones. Tendonitis occurs when any of these tendons become inflamed and using the muscles becomes irritating and painful.

Overuse is the most common reason tendonitis may develop. Another cause is aging, as tendons lose their ability to stretch as you age. Tenderness over the tendon, pain and swelling of the tendon are common symptoms of tendonitis; different kinds of tendonitis (wrist, Achilles, knee, shoulder) need different treatments, but most require RICE therapy and in some cases, physical therapy.

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