Your hands are complex and wonderfully designed machines.Together with your wrists they help you do a remarkable variety of tasks. Fromplaying the piano, to cooking dinner, or hammering a nail, your hands responddaily to various commands that ask for feats of strength and dexterity. To putit simply, your hands are literally extensions of your brain. More of your brainis reserved for controlling hand movements than for controlling any other partof your body. Clearly your hands and wrists are important to every aspect ofyour life. You use your hands all day, every day, both at home, and at work.Yet in doing all these things that they do every day, your hands and wrists areprone to accidents and injury. This program is designed to show you what youcan do to prevent injury, and what to do just in case an accident occurs.
Anatomy of the Hand
Now before we go any further it’s important to take a quicklook at the structure of your hand and wrist. This will help you to understandthe types of injuries we’ll discuss later. Let’s begin with the bones. Bonesform the structural support and strength in your hand and wrist. Altogetherthere are 27 different bones in your hands and wrist. In comparison there areonly 3 bones in your arm. The bones are surrounded and tied together bymuscles, ligaments, and tendons. Ligaments are strong fibrous bands of tissuethat serve to stabilize joints, and prevent damage by limiting side movementsof joints. Tendons permit flexibility. When a muscle contracts the tendons liftor curl the fingers. All of these working together enable your hand to performsome remarkable things including grasping, and the ability to pick up smallobjects with your thumb and index finger. Now let’s take a look at thedifferent kinds of hand and wrist injuries. Remember the information we’ve justdiscussed about bones, ligaments, and tendons.
Hand and Wrist Injuries
- Wrist Fractures - This injury is most often caused by tryingto break a fall with an outstretched hand. Sometimes the ends of the forearmbones can be broken too.
- Hand and Finger Fractures - Generally this is caused bytrapping or twisting the fingers suddenly. Fingers caught in a dark door forexample. Accidentally hitting the finger such as with a hammer can also cause afinger fracture.
- Hand Sprains – These occur when the ligaments in the handsor wrist are stretched too far and tear. Thumb sprains, for example, are acommon sports injury
- Fingertip Injuries – Fingertips are subject to manydifferent types of injuries. The bones can be fractured. The fleshy part of thefinger may be torn, or the fingernail may be damaged.
- Lacerations - Lacerations or cuts can be minor, that is onlyaffecting the layers of skin, or major, serious deep cuts which severe nerves,muscles or tendons. Lacerations can occur when you’re not careful handlingsharp cutting tools such as knives or saws.
- Nerve Compression – This injury results from a swelling oftissue that surround a nerve. As a result there is a loss of feeling orsometimes a tingling. Repetitive movements are a culprit here as they tend tocreate the swelling of tissues.
Caring for hand and wrist injuries depends upon the type ofinjury. A hand surgeon or emergency physician can treat the problem.Emergencies such as lacerations will be cleaned and sutured, while x-rays willbe taken first for fractures to properly diagnose the problem. Your doctor mayask you questions about how the accident or injury happened. If the injury tobe believed a sprain or fracture the fingers, hand, or forearm they will beexamined and gently moved to determine the limits of movement. This helps todiagnose the injury correctly.