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What are the Different Types of Hand Injuries?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are many types of hand injuries. Sometimes these are classified by where they occur they occur on the hands, such as on a specific finger or on the back of the hand or the palm. A more useful classification system is to discuss the types of injuries mostly commonly associated with the hands.

Common hand injuries include cuts or lacerations, animal bites, and burns. Other injuries that can occur with great frequency are jammed fingers and broken fingers, or sprains and strains to the hands or fingers. Some conditions greatly affect the hands but tend to be the result of problems with the wrists. Repetitive motion injuries like carpal syndrome fall into this last category.

Most cuts and burns are mild, and will only result in temporary discomfort. Similarly, a small bite from an animal that does not have rabies isn’t likely to cause incapacitation for long, if at all. There are, of course, very serious hand injuries resulting from cuts or burns, and people with burns that appear to be second degree or higher should see a doctor. Bites from animals that aren’t known and that may potentially carry rabies can be dangerous too and require medical attention. In general, people should follow guidelines for first aid wound or burn care, and see a doctor if in doubt about the severity of an injury.

Jammed and broken fingers are fairly common hand injuries too. It’s fairly easy to jam a finger by running it into a wall, or catching a football or basketball the wrong way. This can cause swelling at the injured finger’s joint, and it can be very painful. Sometimes it may be hard to tell this condition apart from a broken finger, and if the finger was hit hard, crushed or bent back, it may be important to see a doctor to rule out bone breakage. People should ice the injured digit and after the swelling has subsided from icing, they should try to move the finger. If movement is excruciatingly painful, this can indicate a break or fracture, which requires medical care.

Sometimes an injury to the fingers shows immediate problems, and this can occur when a finger gets jammed. If the finger is clearly no longer straight it may be dislocated and requires immediate medical attention. While some people might be able to repair a dislocated finger without a doctor’s care, this is not advised as it could cause permanent damage to the hand, especially if other injuries are present.

The wrists may be considered as part of the hands, and breakage or other injury to the wrist can definitely affect how the hands work. There are eight bones in the wrists that can be subject to fracture, and people can easily sprain or strain wrists in lots of different ways. Sprains and suspected fractures are hand injuries best viewed by a doctor to determine if additional care is needed.

Repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome also affect the hands and fingers, and may result in pain in them, and a sense of numbness in certain fingers. Chronic pain or numbness in the hands or fingers should definitely be mentioned to a doctor. This is especially the case when people use their hands to perform repetitive tasks at work or home.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By lluviaporos — On Oct 27, 2014

@browncoat - Hands are also fairly delicate because they are so complex. They have a lot of blood vessels and nerves in a small area and a lot of interlocking bones and tendons and muscles, so there's a lot of scope for things to go wrong. It's actually more surprising that they usually last so well than that they get injured.

By browncoat — On Oct 26, 2014

@Mor - People do seem to get more hand injuries than almost any other kind of injury. My mother has dislocated her fingers about three times, always from falling down some steps (usually because she was trying to get away with getting down them in the dark). And I don't know if I've ever been to a party where someone at some point hasn't managed to cut themselves on broken glass or something like that. I always try to keep some sticky plasters around because of that, but I've ended up taking people to the emergency room quite often as well.

I guess you're always using your hands actively, and people instinctively put them out to block their faces from danger, so that would be what makes them seem more vulnerable.

By Mor — On Oct 25, 2014

I actually find it can be a good icebreaker to ask people about scars on their hands. They almost always have some kind of story behind them. I would be tactful about asking in case it's a sad or unfortunate story, of course, but it can be a good way to get to know someone.

The biggest scar I have on my hand was from when I was in a car accident with my dog and he panicked and scratched my hand. It wasn't even that bad of a scratch so I don't know why the scar has lasted this long, but it's still quite easy to spot if you look for it.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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