You rely on your hands for almost every task you do. Whether you’re playing a game, working at a computer, or even relaxing on the couch scrolling your phone, you’re using the bones, muscles, and tendons in your hands and fingers.
Since you use your hands almost constantly, you’ll probably notice right away if you start experiencing symptoms of a hand injury. However, determining what caused your injury — and whether you should go to the doctor for an exam — isn’t always so obvious.
Our team at Upper Extremity Specialists, of Ortho 1 Medical Group, know just how much a hand injury can affect your quality of life, and we’re here to help. Kristopher Downing, MD, & James Andry, MD specialize in hand injuries and rehabilitation.
Look for these five signs that your hand injury might be serious, and find out what to do next.
1. Pain in your hand or fingers
The most obvious sign of a hand injury is pain. Pain may be mild to severe, depending on the type of injury you have. You might feel pain in your whole hand, palm, several fingers, or even just one finger.
Acute injuries, such as those from sports or accidental falls, often cause constant pain. Overuse injuries may cause pain that comes and goes or gets worse with time, depending on your activity.
2. Swelling and bruising
Acute hand injuries often bring visible signs of injury along with pain. You might experience bleeding at the time of your injury if skin is broken. Shortly after your injury, you may notice inflammation, swelling, and bruising of your skin.
Watch carefully for signs of infection if you have a hand injury. These signs can include redness, localized warmth, and increased tenderness, even if your hand has started to heal.
3. Decreased range of motion
A hand injury can significantly impact your ability to perform your usual tasks. Swelling can make it difficult to bend your fingers or close your fist. Depending on your injury, you may find that your wrist mobility is affected, too, or that you’re unable to move one or more of your fingers at all.
4. Hand or finger weakness
A hand injury may make your hand feel clumsy or weak, even if you don’t have significant pain or obvious signs of injury. You might find it difficult to grasp objects, pick up things, or perform tasks that require detailed movements, such as buttoning your shirt.
5. Finger deformity
Deformity is another sign of serious hand injury. Fractures, finger dislocation, crush injuries, and other traumatic injuries can all leave you with a finger that’s bent out of place or misshapen.
Overuse injuries can also cause finger and hand deformity over time. Trigger finger, mallet finger, and Boutonnière deformity are a few examples of hand injuries that cause your fingers to bend unnaturally and painfully.
What to do when you have a hand injury
Any number of things can result in hand and finger injuries, and it’s not always the result of an obvious accident or injury. If these symptoms sound familiar, don’t wait to go to the doctor. Schedule a consultation with Upper Extremity Specialists right away.
Dr. Downing starts your appointment with a physical exam. He looks at your hand for visual signs of injury. Then, he evaluates how well you can move your hand and fingers and tests your strength.
He asks questions about how you injured your hand and when you began noticing symptoms. If he suspects a broken bone, he may order X-rays to reach a diagnosis.
Then, we partner with you to create a customized treatment plan. Dr. Downing and our team offer a range of treatment options, including conservative and surgical care.
When hand and finger pain force you to limit your activities, it’s time to seek professional care. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Upper Extremity Specialists today.