Conditions

Common Hand Conditions

Hand

Dupuytren’s disease is an abnormal thickening of the tissue just beneath the skin known as fascia. This thickening occurs in the palm and can extend into the fingers. 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. Occasionally, the disease will cause thickening on top of the finger knuckles (knuckle pads), or nodules or cords within the soles of the feet (plantar fibromatosis). Learn More…
Fractures of the hand can occur in either the small bones of the fingers (phalanges) or the long bones (metacarpals). They can result from a twisting injury, a fall, a crush injury, or direct contact in sports.A physical examination is done to check the position of the fingers and the condition of the skin. The examination may include some range of motion tests and an assessment of feeling in the fingers. This will ensure that there is no damage to the nerves. X-rays identify the location and extent of the fracture. Learn More…
Hand infections can cause severe problems that persist even after the infection has resolved, such as stiffness, loss of strength, and loss of tissues such as skin, nerve and bone.  Thus, early and aggressive treatment of infections is essential. Learn More…
A variety of problems can cause hand stiffness, limiting the use and function that we often take for granted. Stiffness can occur when there are problems within and around the structures of a joint, including ligaments and muscles. Learn More…
Although carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition associated with numb hands, it is not the only cause. Other potential causes can be viewed here: Learn More…

Fingers

Extensor tendons are just under the skin. They lie next to the bone on the back of the hands and fingers and straighten the wrist, fingers and thumb. Learn More…
Fractures of the hand can occur in either the small bones of the fingers (phalanges) or the long bones (metacarpals). They can result from a twisting injury, a fall, a crush injury, or direct contact in sports. A physical examination is done to check the position of the fingers and the condition of the skin. The examination may include some range of motion tests and an assessment of feeling in the fingers. This will ensure that there is no damage to the nerves. X-rays identify the location and extent of the fracture. Learn More…
Fingertip injuries are one of the more common injuries in the hand. The fingertips are exposed in many of our activities.  Learn More…
The muscles that bend (flex) the fingers are called flexor muscles. These flexor muscles move the fingers through cord-like extensions called tendons, which connect the muscles to bone. Learn More…
Jammed fingers are common in sports but may also occur during regular daily activities. Even if the injured finger looks normal and can move normally, it may require medical treatment. Learn More…
A mallet finger is a deformity of a finger caused when a certain tendon (the extensor tendon) is damaged. When a ball or other object strikes the tip of the finger or thumb, the force damages the thin tendon that straightens the finger. The force of the blow may even pull away a piece of bone along with the tendon. The finger or thumb is not able to be straightened. This condition is also known as baseball finger. Learn More…
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 fingers and thumb. In the finger, the pulleys are a series of rings that form a tunnel through which the tendons must glide, much like the guides on a fishing rod through which the line (or tendon) must pass. These pulleys hold the tendons close against the bone. The tendons and the tunnel have a slick lining that allows easy gliding of the tendon through the pulleys. Learn More…

Wrist

Arthritis is a condition that irritates or destroys a joint. Although there are several types of arthritis, the one that most often affects the joint at the base of the thumb (the basal joint) is osteoarthritis (degenerative or “wear-and-tear” arthritis). Learn More…
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition brought on by increased pressure on the median nerve at the wrist. In effect, it is a pinched nerve at the wrist. Symptoms may include numbness, tingling, and pain in the arm, hand, and fingers. There is a space in the wrist called the carpal tunnel where the median nerve and nine tendons pass from the forearm into the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when pressure builds up from swelling in this tunnel and puts pressure on the nerve. When the pressure from the swelling becomes great enough to disturb the way the nerve works, numbness, tingling, and pain may be felt in the hand and fingers.  More information regarding Carpal Tunnel release can be found in our blog postLearn More…
First dorsal compartment tendinitis, more commonly known as deQuervain’s tendinitis or tenosynovitis after the Swiss surgeon Fritz de Quervain, is a condition brought on by irritation or inflammation of the wrist tendons at the base of the thumb. The inflammation causes the compartment (a tunnel or a sheath) around the tendon to swell and enlarge, making thumb and wrist movement painful. Making a fist, grasping or holding objects—often infants—are common painful movements with deQuervain’s tendonitis. Learn More…

Ganglion cysts are very common lumps within the hand and wrist that occur adjacent to joints or tendons. 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. The ganglion cyst often resembles a water balloon on a stalk, and is filled with clear fluid or gel. The cause of these cysts is unknown although they may form in the presence of joint or tendon irritation or mechanical changes. They occur in patients of all ages.

These cysts may change in size or even disappear completely, and they may or may not be painful. These cysts are not cancerous and will not spread to other areas. Learn More…

Kienbock’s disease, also known as avascular necrosis of the lunate, is a condition in which the lunate bone, one of eight small bones in the wrist, loses its blood supply, leading to death of the bone. Learn More…

The scaphoid is one of eight small bones that make up the “carpal bones” of the wrist.  It connects two rows of these bones – the proximal row (closer to the forearm) and the distal row (closer to the hand). This connection puts it at extra risk for injury. Learn More…

A sprain is an injury to a ligament. Ligaments are the connective tissues that connect bones to bones; they could be thought of as tape that holds the bones together at a joint. Learn More…

Elbow

Cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition brought on by increased pressure on the ulnar nerve at the elbow. There is a bump of bone on the inner portion of the elbow (medial epicondyle) under which the ulnar nerve passes. This site is commonly called the “funny bone” (see Figure 1). At this site, the ulnar nerve lies directly next to the bone and is susceptible to pressure. When the pressure on the nerve becomes great enough to disturb the way the nerve works, then numbness, tingling, and pain may be felt in the elbow, forearm, hand, and/or fingers. Learn More…
The biceps muscle is located in the front of your upper arm. It is attached to the bones of the shoulder and elbow by tendons — strong cords of fibrous tissue that attach muscles to bones. Learn More…
Lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow, is a painful condition involving the tendons that attach to the bone on the outside (lateral) part of the elbow. Tendons anchor the muscle to bone. The muscle involved in this condition, the extensor carpi radialis brevis, helps to extend and stabilize the wrist (see Figure 1). With lateral epicondylitis, there is degeneration of the tendon’s attachment, weakening the anchor site and placing greater stress on the area. This can then lead to pain associated with activities in which this muscle is active, such as lifting, gripping, and/or grasping. Sports such as tennis are commonly associated with this, but the problem can occur with many different types of activities, athletic and otherwise. Learn More…
The bursa is a slippery sac between the loose skin and the bones of the elbow. It is located at the tip of the elbow. The bursa allows the skin to move freely over the underlying bone. Normally, the bursa is flat. If it becomes irritated or inflamed, a condition known as bursitis develops. Learn More…
Lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow, is a painful condition involving the tendons that attach to the bone on the outside (lateral) part of the elbow. Tendons anchor the muscle to bone. The muscle involved in this condition, the extensor carpi radialis brevis, helps to extend and stabilize the wrist (see Figure 1). With lateral epicondylitis, there is degeneration of the tendon’s attachment, weakening the anchor site and placing greater stress on the area. This can then lead to pain associated with activities in which this muscle is active, such as lifting, gripping, and/or grasping. Sports such as tennis are commonly associated with this, but the problem can occur with many different types of activities, athletic and otherwise. Learn More…

General

The hand and wrist have multiple small joints that work together to produce motion. This gives the fine motion needed to thread a needle or tie a shoelace. When the joints are affected by arthritis, activities of daily living can be difficult. Arthritis can occur in multiple areas of the hand and wrist. It can have multiple causes.

It is estimated that one out of every five people living in the United States has at least one joint with signs or symptoms of arthritis. About half of arthritis sufferers are under age 50. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. It typically occurs from either disease or trauma. The exact number of people with arthritis in the hand and wrist is not known. Learn More…

Babies born with hands that are different than the normal hand have a congenital hand difference.

The upper limb is formed between four and eight weeks after the sperm and egg unite to form an embryo. The embryo develops an arm bud at four weeks. The tip of the arm bud sends messages to each cell as the upper limb forms. Millions of steps are followed to form a normal arm. Failure of any of these steps to occur can result in a congenital hand difference. Research continues into further understanding of this embryonic process. Some congenital hand differences may occur due to a genetic cause. Many congenital hand differences just occur without an apparent cause. Learn More…

Gout and pseudogout are two types of arthritis that result in sore joints.  With these types of arthritis, crystals form in the joint, causing irritation that is sometimes also present in the tendons near the joint.  Learn More…
Nerves are the body’s “telephone wiring” system that carries messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Some nerves carry messages from the brain to muscles to make the body move.  Learn More…

Aching joints are common in arthritis. In rheumatoid arthritis, the joint lining swells, invades surrounding tissues, and produces chemical substances that attack and destroy the joint surface.

People of all ages may be affected. The disease usually begins in middle age.

Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects joints on both sides of the body in the hands and feet, as well as the hips, knees, and elbows. Without proper treatment, rheumatoid arthritis can become a chronic, disabling condition. Learn More…

Soft tissue sarcomas are cancerous tumors that grow in muscles, fat, joints, nerves or blood vessels. Soft tissue sarcomas make up 1percent of all cancer types and have been estimated to occur approximately 30 cases among every one million people. Studies have connected soft tissue sarcomas to exposure certain chemicals, high-dose radiation, and certain viral infections, and to specific genetic abnormalities. In most cases, the cause is unknown. Learn More…

Note: The material on this page is copyright of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the American Academy or Orthopedic Surgeons.