Carpal Tunnel isn’t the only hand ailment you should be worried about. There are, in fact, many different injuries and issues which can befall your hands. In part, that’s because your hands are so widely used–the risk is higher. But it’s also because the hands tend to be rather densely packed with all kinds of biological machinery.
What Hand Ailments Should You Be Worried About?
Carpal Tunnel is easily the most famous hand ailment in the world. When something starts to feel a little off in your hand, your first thought is, “well, it must be that Carpal Tunnel acting up.” But Carpal Tunnel isn’t the only hand ailment you should be worried about. In fact, there are several hand ailments that could sneak up on you, of which Carpal Tunnel is only one.
The trick with your hands is to recognize just how vital they are. You use them for everything: eating, working, playing video games–your hands are almost always in use. And that means two things.
First, any injury to your hand is almost certainly going to have a negative impact on your quality of life (and you’ll want to find a solution to that injury as quickly as possible). Second, your hands are susceptible to injuries–all that use carries with it certain risks. If you have concerns about your hands, you should definitely seek out medical advice (of which this article is not a substitute for) and talk to a doctor or a hand surgeon.
The Dangers of Tendons and Ligaments
Your hand is full of stuff. Tendons, ligaments, bones, nerves, blood vessels. They are densely packed to say the least. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by a very specific issue concerning excess pressure being placed on a specific nerve in your wrist.
Given how much is going on inside your hands, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s a lot more which can go wrong. Some of the most common non-Carpal Tunnel Syndrome-related hand ailments include:
- Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: Truth be told, Carpal Tunnel and Cubital Tunnel Syndromes are very similar, caused by inflammation and pressure on certain nerves. It’s just that Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is caused by issues in the nerves of the elbow rather than the wrist. As a result, Cubital Tunnel Syndrome symptoms can be felt in the arm (even including your ring finger and pinky finger). Symptoms may include numbness, tingling, pain, or fatigue.
- Trigger Finger: In some cases, the tendons and ligaments of the hands become affected by inflammation and get stuck in a contracted position. This is the situation with trigger finger, in which the index or middle finger become stuck in a contracted position (as though they are pulling a trigger, hence the name). Trigger Finger is usually treatable via surgery.
- De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis: So, this is a mouthful. It’s as hard to say as it is to type. So all you really need to know is that DQT is a hand ailment without a real clear cause. But it does have some common symptoms, including difficulty grasping objects, pain in the thumb and forefinger, swelling in the thumb and forefinger and pain around the base area of your thumb.
Lacerations: If you cut your hand while you’re chopping carrots, your first instinct is likely to stick a band aid on it and go about your day. But here’s the thing: it’s incredibly easy to injure your hands even from small lacerations. As we’ve mentioned, there’s a lot going on beneath the skin of your hands. It’s all packed very tightly and very near the surface, so even a shallow laceration can create significant internal, mechanical damage.
What to do if Your Hand Hurts?
If your hand is experiencing pain or discomfort, you should get it looked at by a medical professional. Many hand ailments (although not all) are caused by repetitive motions, so if at all possible try to keep those motions to a minimum.
You may also want to try wearing a specialized brace to offset some of the discomfort or give your wrist and hand some added support. But only a medical professional will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis and provide treatment.
So if you’re experiencing discomfort, tingling, or numbness in your hand, consult with a medical professional as soon as you possibly can. In some cases, a hand surgeon may be necessary in order to ensure that your hand ailment can actually be treated. Carpal Tunnel isn’t the only hand ailment you should be worried about–but it’s also not the only hand ailment that can be successfully treated.
Sometimes, treatment can be as simple as changing your behavior. In other cases, medication or surgical therapies may be required. Only a medical diagnosis will provide you with the best way to proceed.
About the Author: Dan Voltz has been writing about plastic and cosmetic surgery for over four years. This article was written in conjunction with the staff at Clear Lake Hand Center, a Houston area hand clinic run by board certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Charles Polsen.