one time or another, everyone has had a minor injury to a finger, hand, or
wrist that caused pain or swelling. Most of the time our body movements do not
cause problems, but it's not surprising that symptoms develop from everyday
wear and tear, overuse, or an injury.
Finger, hand, or wrist
injuries most commonly occur during:
- Sports or recreational
- Work-related tasks.
- Work or projects around
the home, especially if using machinery such as lawn mowers, snow blowers, or
- Accidental falls.
The risk of finger, hand, or wrist injury is higher in
contact sports, such as wrestling, football, or soccer, and in high-speed
sports, such as biking, in-line skating, skiing, snowboarding, and
skateboarding. Sports that require weight-bearing on the hands and arms, such
as gymnastics, can increase the risk for injury. Sports that use hand equipment
such as ski poles, hockey or lacrosse sticks, or racquets also increase the
risk of injury.
In children, most finger, hand, or wrist injuries
occur during sports or play or from accidental falls. Any injury occurring at
the end of a long bone near a joint may injure the growth plate (physis) and
needs to be evaluated.
Older adults are at higher risk for injuries
and fractures because they lose muscle mass and bone strength (osteopenia) as they age. They also have more problems
with vision and balance, which increases their risk of accidental
Most minor injuries will heal on their own, and home
treatment is usually all that is needed to relieve symptoms and promote
An acute injury may occur from
a direct blow, a penetrating injury, or a fall, or from twisting, jerking,
jamming, or bending a limb abnormally. Pain may be sudden and severe. Bruising
and swelling may develop soon after the injury. Acute injuries include:
Overuse injuries occur when too much
stress is placed on a joint or other tissue, often by "overdoing" an activity
or repeating the same activity. Overuse injuries include the following:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on a nerve (median nerve ) in the
wrist. The symptoms include tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain of the
fingers and hand.
- Tendon pain is
actually a symptom of tendinosis, a series of very small tears (microtears) in
the tissue in or around the
tendon. In addition to pain and tenderness, common
symptoms of tendon injury include decreased strength and movement in the
- De Quervain's disease can occur in the
hand and wrist when tendons and the tendon covering (sheath) on the thumb side
of the wrist swell and become inflamed.
Treatment for a finger, hand, or wrist
injury may include first aid measures; medicine; "buddy-taping" for support;
application of a brace, splint, or cast; physical therapy; and in some cases,
surgery. Treatment depends on:
- The location, type, and severity of the
- How long ago the injury occurred.
- Your age,
health condition, and activities (such as work,
sports, or hobbies).
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.