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Hand and Wrist Injuries

The wrist is prone to injuries that may include sprains as well as fractures, can occur with lifting and carrying heavy objects, operating machinery, a fall, or sports-related injuries.

Some of the common wrist injuries include:

Sprains and Strains: Sprains and strains are the two most common types of injuries affecting the wrist.  A sprain refers to an injury to a ligament and a strain refers to a muscle injury. Sprains and strains occur due to excessive force applied during a stretching, twisting, or thrusting action.  Most sprains and strains will repair themselves with adequate rest, ice application, compression, and elevation. Surgery is occasionally required to repair the damage.

Ligamentous Injuries: Ligaments are fibrous tissues that connect bones to other bones. Complete ligament injury occurs when all the fibres are torn. Ligament injury may cause pain, swelling and limit the movement of wrist joints. A minor ligament injury can be effectively treated with splinting and taping with restriction of movement of injured structures. More severe cases require surgery

Fractures: A fracture is a break in the bone and occurs when more force than the bearable limit is applied against a bone. Crushing injuries to the hand or wrist occurring due to high degree of force or pressure may also cause fractures. A fracture may cause severe pain, swelling, bruising or bleeding, discolouration of the skin and limit the mobility of the limb. Fractures of the wrist bones can be treated by using a cast or splint while the bone heals. Sometimes surgery may be required and plates, pins or screws may be placed to keep the fracture stable.

Repetitive Trauma Syndrome: Repetitive stress injury occurs as a result of repeated similar movements for longer periods of time. This often causes pressure on the joints resulting in inflammation, pain, and decreased function in the extremity. The condition is more likely to develop with repetitive, rapid, forceful and prolonged movements of the wrist, or vibration or frequent pushing, pulling or carrying heavy objects. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common of these syndromes.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition characterised by numbness or pain in the thumb and first two fingers and occurs when the median nerve is compressed at the wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome is often a common complaint in individuals who use their hands for prolonged period of time in particular occupation. With early cases immobilisation may help symptoms. Medications and physiotherapy may also help. If symptoms persist then surgery may be recommended. Nerve conduction studies are often recommended.

Any problem causing pain, swelling, discolouration, numbness or a tingling sensation, or abnormal position of the wrist that persists for more than two or three days should be evaluated to establish the cause and obtain the best treatment as early as possible.