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Hand Injuries

Hand Injury Overview

Intricate in design and function, the hand is an amazing work of anatomic engineering. Form follows function in the hand; therefore, any injury to the underlying structures of the hand carries the potential for serious handicap. To reduce this risk, even the smallest hand injuries require proper medical evaluation.

The goal with injuries to the hand is a rapid and accurate initial evaluation and treatment. In other words, once an injury occurs, the doctor strives to begin medical treatment quickly so the short- and long-term effects on the hand can be minimized.

The hand consists of 27 bones (including the 8 bones of the wrist). When the other associated structures (nerves, arteries, veins, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joint cartilage, and fingernails) are considered, the potential for a variety of injuries exists when trauma involves the hand.

The most common cause of the injuries was blunt trauma, followed by injury from a sharp object.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/15/2014
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Hand and Finger Injuries: One ER Physician's Story

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

As an emergency room physician, I frequently see hand injuries. More than 1,000,000 U.S. workers receive treatment in emergency departments annually for acute hand and finger injuries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that approximately 110,000 workers with hand and finger injuries lose days from work annually - second only to back strain and sprain in terms of work days lost.

I injured my hand when I was 18 years old, and since then I have taken a special interest in treating hand injuries.

While working in a restaurant I accidentally stuck my index finger into a mechanical cheese grating machine and ground off the tip of my finger. I suffered traumatic nail bed damage, an open fracture, and tendon injury to the dorsum (back side) of my finger.

I went directly to the local emergency department where I was seen by a resident physician who took some X-rays and then prepared to repair the extensive lacerations.

During the procedure the doctor injected lidocaine (a common local anesthetic) directly into the area surrounding my wounds to anesthetize my finger, which was incredibly painful - more painful than the initial injury. The doctor put in several stitches to stop the bleeding and bandaged my finger with a splint. I was referred to a hand surgeon for follow-up the next day.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Hand Injury, Soft Tissue »

Hand injuries are common and account for 5-10% of emergency department (ED) visits nationwide.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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