Orthopedic conditions that affect your arms and hands can range from quick healing sports injuries to more complicated orthopedic conditions. Unfortunately, many of these injuries can involve long healing times, because it is hard to provide rest to such used areas of your body. Some of the most frequent orthopedic conditions of the arms and hands include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome – A condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in your wrist and hand, carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by the compression of the nerve that runs from your hand to your forearm. There are many factors that can make it more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, like heredity and overuse of your hand. Bracing, activity modification, and steroid injections are some non-surgical approaches to treating carpal tunnel syndrome. In more serious cases, surgery is needed, which can include dividing the top of the carpal tunnel in order to release some of the pressure.
- Distal radius fracture – A distal radius fracture is a broken wrist, and it can occur with differing types of severity. This type of break is most commonly caused by falling onto an arm that is outstretched, which causes immediate pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness, and often a visual deformity. Usually, a plaster cast or a splint is used to hold the bones in place so they can heal, but they may need to be aligned surgically for more severe breaks.
- Elbow dislocation – The elbow becomes dislocated when the surfaces of the joint are separated. This usually occurs when falling onto an outstretched hand, a movement that drives the elbow out of its socket. In more severe dislocations, there are ligament and bone injuries as well. Symptoms of a dislocation usually involve pain and a visual deformity of the elbow. Non-surgical treatment can include pain medication, manual realignment, slings, splints, and early motion exercises. For more severe elbow dislocations, surgery is used to restore alignment and to repair ligaments.
- Elbow fracture – Also known as a broken olecranon, a fractured elbow usually appears alone due to a fall or direct blow to the elbow. However, an elbow fracture can also be part of a more complicated elbow injury. Symptoms of an elbow fracture are sudden pain, bruising, swelling, inability to straighten arm, and numbness in the fingers. Casts, slings, and splints may be used to hold the elbow in place to allow healing, but surgery can also be used for more severe cases.
- Golfer’s elbow – This condition develops on the inside of your elbow and is an overuse injury associated with golf, weight training, baseball, and football. The condition often involves weakness, numbness, and stiffness. Non-surgical treatments include medications, physical therapy, and icing. For more severe cases, surgery is needed to repair the tendon.
- Tennis elbow – This overuse injury is similar to golfer’s elbow, and it is most common in athletes, carpenters, and painters. It is characterized by inflammation of tendons located on the outside of the elbow, and symptoms include pain and a weakened grip. Non-surgical treatment approaches include steroid injections, bracing, and physical therapy. For more serious cases, surgery is performed to remove diseased muscle.
- Trigger finger – Trigger finger is the result of irritated tendons that pass through a thickened sheath (located near the palm). This is an overuse injury that leads to pain and often locking of the finger. Anti-inflammatory medication is a non-surgical treatment approach in the early stages of trigger finger. For more serious cases, surgery is needed to open the sheath through the use of a small incision.