Hands and wrists play a big part in our everyday life. They enable us to drive, play sports, work, cook, and eat — almost everything you do will demand something from your hands and wrists.
The hand and wrist are intricate structures consisting of bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, nerves, muscle, blood vessels and cartilage. With so many moving parts, it’s no surprise that this area can come under strain and become injured.
Sports, degenerative diseases, and overuse can all cause injuries in the hand and wrist.
Anatomy of the hand and wrist
In the human hand, there are 27 bones, 27 joints, 34 muscles, more than 100 ligaments and tendons, as well as various nerves and blood vessels.
The wrist consists of 3 joints, 8 carpal bones and 2 long bones — the radius and the ulna. The muscles in the wrist allow for flexion, extension, abduction and adduction.
The forearm contains most of the muscles that control the hand. However, there are some small muscles in the hand at work too. The many ligaments help to stabilise the bones in the area.
When all these structures work in harmony, it allows for a high level of function and dexterity. Movement should be pain-free if there is no injury or disease.
How to prevent hand and wrist injuries
- Stretch and strengthen the hands and wrist with specific exercises
- Use proper form
- Take regular breaks to prevent repetitive strain injuries
- Use protective equipment when available in sports
What causes pain in the hand and wrist?
With so many structures in the hand and wrist, pain can be caused by several different conditions. These conditions could be due to an injury to a bone, tendon or ligament, repetitive movement or inflammation caused by arthritis.
Common issues that affect the hand and wrist include:
- Neural impingement (carpal tunnel syndrome)
- Repetitive strain injury (Tendonitis)
- Trigger Finger
- Tendon tear
- Ligament tear
When you have pain in your hand and wrist you should have an assessment to check where the problem lies. You may have to have a follow-up X-ray or MRI to get to the root cause of the pain.
What can be done for hand and wrist pain?
Your GP or Pharmacist will be able to offer you advice on medication to relieve pain in the hand and wrist. You may also seek a Physiotherapist to give you a specialist assessment. They will be able to prescribe exercises and perform manual therapies to help with the condition.
If physiotherapy isn’t a success, or if it isn’t suitable for the condition, then surgery may be the next cause of action. An Orthopaedic Surgeon specialising in the hand and wrist will be able to give you more advice.
Hand and wrist surgeries
- Trigger Finger
- Total Wrist Fusion
- PIP Joint Replacement of the Little Finger
- Metacarpophalangeal (MCP) Joint Replacement
- Carpal Tunnel Release
You can find out more about these surgeries and what’s involved by visiting our Patient Resource Centre.