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Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Finger, Hand, and Wrist Injuries
one time or another, everyone has had a minor injury to a finger, hand, or
wrist that caused pain or swelling. Most of the time our body movements do not
cause problems, but it's not surprising that symptoms develop from everyday
wear and tear, overuse, or an injury.
Finger, hand, or wrist
injuries most commonly occur during:
The risk of finger, hand, or wrist injury is higher in
contact sports, such as wrestling, football, or soccer, and in high-speed
sports, such as biking, in-line skating, skiing, snowboarding, and
skateboarding. Sports that require weight-bearing on the hands and arms, such
as gymnastics, can increase the risk for injury. Sports that use hand equipment
such as ski poles, hockey or lacrosse sticks, or racquets also increase the
risk of injury.
In children, most finger, hand, or wrist injuries
occur during sports or play or from accidental falls. Any injury occurring at
the end of a long bone near a joint may injure the growth plate (physis) and
needs to be evaluated.
Older adults are at higher risk for injuries
and fractures because they lose muscle mass and bone strength (osteopenia) as they age. They also have more problems
with vision and balance, which increases their risk of accidental
Most minor injuries will heal on their own, and home
treatment is usually all that is needed to relieve symptoms and promote
An acute injury may occur from
a direct blow, a penetrating injury, or a fall, or from twisting, jerking,
jamming, or bending a limb abnormally. Pain may be sudden and severe. Bruising
and swelling may develop soon after the injury. Acute injuries include:
Overuse injuries occur when too much
stress is placed on a joint or other tissue, often by "overdoing" an activity
or repeating the same activity. Overuse injuries include the following:
Treatment for a finger, hand, or wrist
injury may include first aid measures; medicine; "buddy-taping" for support;
application of a brace, splint, or cast; physical therapy; and in some cases,
surgery. Treatment depends on:
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Pain in children under 3 years
It can be hard to tell how much pain a baby or toddler is in.
Major trauma is any event that can
cause very serious injury, such as:
Symptoms of infection may
When an area turns blue, very pale, or cold, it can mean that there has been a sudden change in the blood
supply to the area. This can be serious.
There are other reasons
for color and temperature changes. Bruises often look blue. A limb may turn
blue or pale if you leave it in one position for too long, but its normal color
returns after you move it. What you are looking for is a change in how the area
looks (it turns blue or pale) and feels (it becomes cold to the touch), and
this change does not go away.
Pain in children 3 years and older
Pain in adults and older children
You may need a tetanus shot depending
on how dirty the wound is and how long it has been since your last shot.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in adults are:
With severe bleeding, any of these may
With moderate bleeding, any of these may
With mild bleeding, any of these may be
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you need
Call911or other emergency services now.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Shock is a life-threatening condition that may quickly occur
after a sudden illness or injury.
Symptoms of shock (most of which will be present) include:
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
Based on your answers, you need
Put direct, steady pressure on the
wound until help arrives. Keep the area raised if you can.
Shock is a life-threatening condition that may occur quickly
after a sudden illness or injury.
Symptoms of shock in a child may include:
treatment may help relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness.
If a cast or splint is applied,
be sure to keep it dry and to try to move your extremity as normally as
possible to help maintain muscle strength and tone. Your doctor will give you
instructions on how to
care for your cast or splint.
Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. Smoking slows
healing, because it decreases blood supply and delays tissue repair. For more
information, see the topic
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
The following tips may prevent finger,
hand, and wrist injuries.
Injuries such as bruises, burns,
fractures, cuts, or punctures may be a sign of
abuse. Suspect possible abuse when an injury cannot be
explained or does not match the explanation, repeated injuries occur, or the
explanations for the cause of the injury change. You may be able to prevent
further abuse by reporting it and seeking help.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerDavid Messenger, MD
Current as ofMay 22, 2015
Current as of:
May 22, 2015
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & David Messenger, MD
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
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