Hand fractures can cause different symptoms depending upon the location and type of fracture. Most fractures cause localized pain and swelling, sometimes accompanied by symptoms of numbness or tingling or burning sensations in the hand or fingers or extending into the forearm. Range of motion in the palm or fingers or loss of grip strength are also common, and movement of the hand, fingers or wrist can be very painful. Some fractures cause visible deformity of the underlying bone or knuckles. Hand fractures are usually diagnosed with a physical examination of the hand combined with diagnostic imaging to determine the type of fracture and to help guide treatment.
Some fractures can be treated with casting or splinting. In some cases, the fracture will need to be “reduced” - misaligned ends of the bones will need to be carefully repositioned – prior to casting. Some hand fractures will require surgery to correct, and tiny pins, screws or other medical hardware may be used during the procedure to hold the bones in place and to stabilize the fracture area. Physical therapy can be very important in any type of hand injury, helping to restore pain-free movement, strength and flexibility while also promoting better healing.
Tenosynovitis is a painful condition that develops when the protective sheath that surrounds a tendon becomes inflamed and swollen. Normally, tendons move by sliding back and forth within this sheath. But if the lining of the sheath (the synovium) becomes inflamed, it can squeeze the tendon and make movement painful. In the hand, the most common type of tenosynovitis is called De Quervain's tenosynovitis, and it affects the tendons that help the thumb move and allow grasping of objects. In most cases, DE Quervain's tenosynovitis can be treated successfully with splinting and oral medications or injections of pain relievers and corticosteroids into the area where the thumb and wrist meet. In more severe cases, surgery may be needed to relieve pressure caused by the sheath.
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