Hand and Wrist Conditions
The hand is made up of 27 bones that form its supporting framework. This frame acts as a point of attachment for the muscles that make the wrist and fingers move. The alignment of the bones in your hand and fingers let you perform many specialized functions, such as grasping a pen or manipulating small objects in your palm.
DeQuervain’s Tendonitis or Tenosynovitis is a condition caused by an inflammation of the tendons located at the thumb side of the wrist. Tendons, the tissues that attach our muscles to our bones, can become swollen and sore from over use. Traditionally, DeQuervain’s Tendonitis was called “Washer Woman’s Syndrome” because of the repetitive hand movements used for wringing wet clothes.
Dupuytren’s disease is an abnormal thickening of the tissue just beneath the skin of the palm and fingers known as fascia. Firm cords and lumps may develop that can cause the fingers to bend into the palm, in which case it is described as Dupuytren’s contracture. Although the skin may become involved in the process, the deeper structures, such as the tendons, are not directly involved.
Ganglion Cysts are a common condition that can appear as within the hand and wrist. The most common locations are the top of the wrist, the palm side of the wrist, the base of the finger on the palm side, and the top of the end joint of the finger. These cysts may change in size or even disappear completely, and they may or may not be painful. These cysts are not harmful or cancerous, and will not spread to other areas.
Tendons are the bands of fibrous connective tissue that connect muscles to bone. Tendons aid in movement of the fingers, hand and all other body parts.
There are two types of tendons present in the hand- extensor tendons and flexor tendons. Extensor tendons present on top of the hand help with straightening the fingers, whereas, flexor tendons that lie on the palm side of the hand help in bending the fingers. The flexor tendons are smooth, flexible, thick tissue strands which bend the fingers.
Stenosing tenosynovitis, commonly known as “trigger finger” or “trigger thumb”, involves the pulleys and tendons in the hand that bend the fingers. The tendons work like long ropes connecting the muscles of the forearm with the bones of the thumb and finger. In the finger, the pulleys are a series of rings that form a tunnel through which the tendons must glide. They also hold the tendons close against the bone.
Although there are many disorders of the hand and wrist, one of the most common is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). It often affects workers who perform repetitive hand movements, such as typing or assembly tasks, and causes numbness, tingling and burning. Although CTS can be painful and debilitating, it is also highly treatable if diagnosed early.
Hand pain is characterized by distress in the joints and tissues of the hand or fingers. Hand pain can be depicted as pulsating, aching, increased warmth, prickling, irritation and inflexibility. The hand is composed of nerves, bones, blood vessels, muscles, tendons and skin. Each part has its specific function such as nerves transfer sensation, joints control movements, blood vessels maintain circulation, muscles provide motion, tendons anchor the muscles to the bones, and skin receives sensations.
The wrist is a commonly injured joint in the body. Problems include sprains and strains as well as fractures which can occur with lifting and carrying heavy objects, while operating machinery, bracing against a fall, or from sports-related injuries.
The hand and wrist have multiple small joints that work together, producing motion. This gives us the fine motor skills needed to thread a needle or tie a shoelace. When the joints are affected by arthritis, activities of every daily living can be difficult. Arthritis can occur in multiple areas of the hand and wrist and can have multiple causes.