Whether your hands are moving in repetitive motions at work or you are risking a hand injury on the sports field, pain in the hands can happen to anyone. These injuries are not only uncomfortable, but they can hinder your daily activities and life responsibilities.
Even a small hand injury can make the simplest tasks feel impossible. If your fingers or hands are hurting, then it can be hard to type at the computer, wash the dishes, or drive a car. You need functioning hands to get through the daily activities at home and work!
Minor injuries will usually heal on their own with at-home first aid treatments. But serious injuries should be checked out by an orthopedic doctor. If there is an injury that requires treatment, such as a torn ligament or fractured bone, time is an important factor that helps you avoid unnecessary complications in the future.
Our team at Orthopedic Associates offers full-service diagnostics and treatments for every part of the musculoskeletal system: hands, arms, legs, ankles, knees, hips, feet, back, neck, and more. We invite you to reach out for a consultation if you need treatment or a diagnosis.
Hand Injuries: A Two-Part Process
When we are treating hand injuries, we focus on two goals: relieving pain and restoring the function of the hand. Not only do you want to feel better, but it’s critical to make sure the hand is working properly.
If you injure your hand and it seems like a minor injury, then you might try at-home treatments first to see if you can manage the pain and swelling without medical care. When the symptoms continue to worsen, or you have mobility concerns, then it’s best to talk to an orthopedic specialist as soon as possible.
We use a thorough diagnostic process, including an examination and digital imaging as necessary, to determine the underlying cause of your injury. The doctor will also ask questions about the length of time you’ve been in pain, when the injury occurred, and other symptoms that coincide with the pain.
Two Types of Hand Injuries
Orthopedics are helpful for treating both acute and chronic hand injuries:
- Acute Hand Injuries: An acute injury means that an accident happened, and you suddenly have new pain. These injuries often require medical treatment, and the pain goes away when the injury heals. Examples of acute injuries include broken bones from a sports accident or car accident.
- Chronic Hand Injuries: Some patients can’t identify a specific time when their hand was injured. Instead, the pain slowly crept in, resulting in a situation where the pain is fluctuating or ongoing for weeks or months. Chronic hand injuries are often caused by repetitive motions, such as carpal tunnel from typing. Or, they can happen in people with autoimmune diseases and other health conditions.
Treatment varies depending on the type of injury we are dealing with and the underlying cause of the injury. Our team of orthopedic doctors works closely with each patient to identify an accurate diagnosis so we can design a personalized treatment plan.
Treatment Options for Hand Injuries
What is the best way to alleviate your pain and help your hand heal as quickly as possible? Here are a few options that your orthopedic doctor might recommend:
This at-home remedy can be used on any injured part of the body, not just the hands. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. These four steps can be an effective way to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain associated with tendonitis, strains, and sprains.
When an acute injury occurs, it’s important to give yourself at least 1 to 2 days for recovery. During this time, follow these RICE steps:
- Rest: Minimize the use of that hand as much as possible. Take it easy to avoid straining the injured areas.
- Ice: Apply an ice pack to the injury every few hours for 15 – 20 minutes each session. Ice helps to relieve pain and reduce inflammation at the same time.
- Compression: A bandage or hand brace can be helpful to stabilize the hand and reduce the swelling at the same time.
- Elevate: When you are resting, place the hand on a pillow or elevated resting place above the heart. This helps to minimize swelling.
RICE can be helpful for mild or moderate hand injuries. It’s still a good idea to visit an orthopedic doctor to rule out more serious injuries.
Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications can be helpful in alleviating your pain and reducing swelling. Talk to your doctor about the right dosages and types of medications.
For more serious injuries, your orthopedic doctor might recommend a prescription pain reliever. Many doctors try to avoid these stronger drugs whenever possible because of the risk of dependency.
Another alternative to taking pills is to use anti-inflammatory injections. This minimally-invasive treatment includes both anesthetic medication (to target the pain) and steroids (to target the inflammation). The treatment can be done in our orthopedic office.
Not only is physical therapy a crucial part of your recovery process, but these exercises can minimize the risk of re-injuring your hand again in the future. For mild and moderate injuries, you can meet with a physical therapist a few times to design a personalized physical therapy plan.
Then, you will have exercises to do at home. These exercises focus on building strength and improving flexibility. Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for both acute and chronic hand injuries.
Maintaining consistency with your physical therapy exercises is one of the most effective things you can do to restore function in your hand. These targeted exercises are helpful to ensure you have proper mobility and function in all of the fingers.
Our team at Orthopedic Associates always prefers to use minimally-invasive treatments whenever possible. But if the other treatments aren’t working for you, then you might need to talk to the doctor about more intensive treatment options – such as surgery.
Sometimes, hand surgery is the only option for an acute injury caused by severe trauma because it’s necessary to realign the bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Or, surgery might be a good option to consider if you have a chronic hand injury that isn’t getting better.
Talk to an Orthopedic Doctor About Your Hand Injury
Do you have pain in your hand, wrist, or fingers? Then it’s time to talk to an orthopedic specialist for a diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. Our team at Orthopedic Associates is here to help, with services available for people of all ages.