Wrist and Hand Related Conditions

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Wrist and hand pain

Upper limb fractures (broken bones in the arm)

Fractures to the bones in the arm can either be managed conservatively (usually immobilised in a sling or plaster) or through fixing them surgically.  Your orthopaedic surgeon will decide which option is best for you, based on your x-ray or scan findings.  Once the surgeons are happy with how the fracture is healing you will usually be referred to physiotherapy to help you get the movement and strength back into your arm. 

Because broken bones have to be immobilised in order to heal, it is usual for the joints around the fracture to become stiff and the muscles to become weak.  This can cause pain in around the joint initially, however this usually improves once you get things moving.  Once your fracture has healed you should try and use the arm as normally as possible, however, you may have to gradually re-introduce more difficult activities (e.g. heavy lifting).  If you have any concerns about specific activities, discuss this with your physiotherapist.  Occasionally, broken bones can cause a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). If you have developed this condition please click here for more information.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (arthritis) is caused by the gradual thinning of the smooth cartilage that lines all of our joints.  This is a normal process that happens as we get older, however, it can cause joint pain and stiffness.  Using the affected joint will not cause more wear and in-fact too much rest will cause more pain and stiffness in the joint and weakness in the surrounding muscles. 

Although arthritis cannot be cured, symptoms can be improved by keeping active and performing regular exercise.  Exercising keeps the muscles around the joint strong and flexible which can help to reduce pain and maximise your functional ability.  Losing weight can also help with pain from arthritis.  If you would like advice about diet and weight loss, community health trainers can give practical advice and support with this.  Further information about arthritis can be found here on the Arthritis Research UK website. 

Osteoarthritis

The most common place to experience arthritis in the hand is at the base of the thumb and the joints at the end of your fingers.  Click here for further information about arthritis.

De Quervain's tenosynovitis

Tenosynovitis Is caused when the tendons which move the thumb become inflamed as they travel through their sheath (covering) in the wrist.  This usually causes pain on lifting and moving the wrist and thumb.  Stretching and strengthening the tendon will often help with symptoms, however, in some cases an injection may be required.  Your physiotherapist will advise you which exercises will be most helpful for this condition.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of a nerve as it travels through the wrist and hand.  It can cause pain and numbness in the fingers and a loss of grip strength in the hand.  If your wrists are very stiff, stretching exercises can help but this condition usually requires either an injection or a small operation to decrease symptoms.