Our orthopedic and trauma surgeons and a multidisciplinary team comprising occupational therapists, nurses, physiotherapists, and orthotics practitioners are renowned for creating exceptional orthopedic care outcomes.

Let us understand what causes one of the most common orthopedic problems: Hand & Shoulder injuries and how they are treated.

Hands, Fingers & Wrist Anatomy

The human hand has 27 bones, ligaments, muscles, and joints. It is a complex and dexterous organ that performs movements such as gripping, grasping, holding, etc. and any parts may get injured.

Let’s understand the anatomy of the hand, wrist, and elbow area:

  • Tendons are bands of tissue running from the forearm across the back of your hand and wrist to your fingers and thumb to facilitate straightening and bending fingers.
  • Ligaments are bands of tissue on either side of the thumb and finger joints to keep the joint straight.
  • The joints in the hand and wrist are where the bones meet. The joints are cushioned with cartilage, so they don’t rub against each other when they move. The joints are enclosed in a fibrous covering with a thin membrane that secretes fluid to lubricate them.
  • Bones form the hand and wrist’s skeleton, giving each finger and wrist its structure.
  • The elbow is a hinged joint with three bones (humerus, ulna, radius) with ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

Common Hand, Wrist & Elbow Injuries

Most hand injuries occur during a contact sport or high-intensity movements during physical activities. They include the following:

  • Ligament and tendon injuries: Overuse of tendons and ligaments due to repetitive movements, such as typing or playing an instrument, wear them down, causing inflammation and pain. Inflammation of tendons is called tendonitis.
  • Wrist injury: Excessive stress on the wrist movement wears down the cartilage in the wrist joint causing pain, swelling, and stiffness.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: The median nerve runs from the forearm through the carpal tunnel in your wrist to the hand. This nerve controls finger movements, and repetitive actions create pressure on the nerve, causing swelling and pain in your wrist.
  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: Have you experienced tingling fingers? It is because of pressure on the ulnar nerve that runs from the neck down your arm to the wrist and hand. Extra stress on this nerve due to movements causes tingling and numbness in the hands.
  • Tennis elbow: Overuse and wear-and-tear of tendons joining forearm muscles to the elbow.
  • Fractures (broken fingers or wrist).
  • Finger or wrist dislocation.
  • Tennis elbow: Repetitive movement damages the tendons connecting muscle to bone.

Treatment for hand, wrist, and elbow injuries:

Treatment depends on the injury’s severity, the patient’s age, and health. Any of the following approaches may be used:

  • Rest.
  • Pain-reducing medicines and ice.
  • Physiotherapy and exercise.
  • Splint or cast.
  • Steroid injections.
  • Elbow or wrist padding.
  • Surgery (for severe, complex injuries).

Shoulder Anatomy

  • The shoulder has three bones: the shoulder blade or scapula, collarbone or clavicle, and the humerus, the upper arm bone.
  • There are four major joints.
  • Four main ligaments.
  • Four muscles comprise the rotator cuff muscle group that supports the shoulder joints.

Common Shoulder Injuries

  • Dislocation: The top of the upper arm bone (humerus) pops out of the socket when the shoulder is stretched too hard or rotated too far.
  • Rotator cuff injury: The rotator cuff muscles and tendons stabilize the shoulder joint and facilitate arm movement. A tear or rupture in the tendons or muscles causes swelling, pain, and impaired movement.
  • Shoulder tendonitis: Inflammation of tendons in the shoulder’s rotator cuff.
  • Frozen shoulder: It is caused by inflammation of the connective tissue called the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint, restricting movement.
  • Fracture.
  • Cartilage tear.
  • Bursitis: Bursitis is a small sac of fluid that cushions bones, tendons, and muscles near the joints. When it is inflamed, it causes pain and swelling of the joint.

Treatment for Shoulder Injuries

  • Rest.
  • Pain-reducing medicines and ice.
  • Physiotherapy and exercise.
  • Splint or cast.
  • Steroid injections.
  • Elbow or wrist padding.
  • Surgery (for severe, complex injuries).

Fracture, Sprain or Strain: How to Tell the Difference?

  • A sprain is a ligament-related problem; it is a soft tissue injury that can be mild or severe.
  • Strain is a muscle-related injury when they are overworked.
  • A fracture is the breaking or cracking of the bone.

Sprains and strains lead to swelling, pain, and difficulty moving the part; the degree of pain depends on the extent of the ligament or muscle damage.

Fractures cause intense pain, a sense of deformity of the area, numbness, and bruising and can injure muscles or ligaments attached to the bone. The slightest pressure on the site leads to severe pain, and rest does not improve pain due to fracture.

Seek medical help if you are experiencing severe pain and are unsure if it is a sprain, strain, or fracture of the hand, wrist, elbow, or shoulder.