Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Other Common Hand & Wrist Injuries
The hand is one of the most unique and complicated structures of the human anatomy, performing fine motor skills with agility and dexterity, but also tasks requiring strength and stability.
The 19 bones of the hand are supported by ligaments, tendons and muscles, along with a rich supply of blood vessels and nerves that supply the brain with sensations such as touch, pain and temperature.
Hands can end up injured despite the best precautions, which can adversely affect so much of daily life.
What is the Most Common Hand Injury?
Some of the most common hand injuries are sprains and fractures.
Aside from these types of trauma to the thumbs and fingers, the most common complaint is pain and numbness in the hand caused by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is the opening that allows the median nerve and flexor tendons to travel through the wrist to the hand. CTS symptoms arise when the opening is narrowed, or the tissues within the tunnel inflame and expand.
How Does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Develop?
There are a number of causes and risk factors associated with CTS, including force (trauma to the wrist), posture, wrist alignment, stress from prolonged, repetitive movement (cashiers and typists), temperature and vibration.
Other factors that may increase the likelihood of developing CTS include smoking, obesity and caffeine intake.
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Effective treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome requires a thorough physical examination and a careful history of the condition.
Non-operative treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome include:
Surgical intervention may be indicated if non-operative treatments fail or in the case of acute CTS.
Virtually every activity we love to do in our mountain community poses a risk of wrist injury. Fall once and your wrist might need serious treatment.
Dr. Joseph uses the latest technology and procedures to properly treat any injury, which can vary from simple to complex depending on the seriousness of the injury.
The Wrist: Another Small But Complex Joint
Considered one of the most complex joints in the human body, the wrist contains eight small carpal bones that connect the bones of the forearm (ulna and radius) with the bones of the hand (metacarpals).
Each of these bones forms a joint with the bone next to it, with articular cartilage for shock absorption and intricate structure of ligaments and tendons for stability and range of motion. Adding to the complexity, are important nerves and blood vessels that pass through the wrist to the hand.
What is the Most Common Wrist Injury?
The most common injury to the wrist is impact or force applied to an outstretched hand; for example, breaking a fall by landing on an outstretched hand or by using an outstretched hand to brace the body in a collision.
Whether bones have been broken or not, instability to the ligaments must be corrected in order to avoid unusual wear and tear on the articular cartilage that may result from imbalance.
Diagnosing and Treating a Wrist Injury
X-rays are a good starting point for diagnosis; however, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) provides better detail of soft tissue damage such as a torn ligament.
In some cases, it may be necessary to use an arthroscope to see which ligaments may be torn and at the same time repair the ligaments.
In the case of a simple wrist sprain where the ligament is only partially injured (rather than completely torn), nonsurgical treatment may require a splint of cast for three to six weeks to allow the ligament to heal. Surgery is more likely to be indicated in complete tears and older injuries.