Finger, hand, or wrist
injuries most commonly occur during:
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:
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:
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.
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treatment may help relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness.
If a cast or splint is applied,
be sure to keep it dry and to try to move your extremity as normally as
possible to help maintain muscle strength and tone. Your doctor will give you
instructions on how to
care for your cast or splint.
Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. Smoking slows
healing, because it decreases blood supply and delays tissue repair. For more
information, see the topic
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
The following tips may prevent finger,
hand, and wrist injuries.
Injuries such as bruises, burns,
fractures, cuts, or punctures may be a sign of
abuse. Suspect possible abuse when an injury cannot be
explained or does not match the explanation, repeated injuries occur, or the
explanations for the cause of the injury change. You may be able to prevent
further abuse by reporting it and seeking help.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the
October 11, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
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