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.
Hand injuries account for nearly 10% of hospital emergency department visits. A series of 1,000 consecutive hand injuries showed the following distribution: 42% lacerations (cuts), 27% contusions (bruises), 17% fractures (broken bones), and 5% infections. Hand injuries account for about 17% all workday loss injuries.
The most common cause of the injuries was blunt trauma (50%) followed by injury from a sharp object (25%).
Chad Tarr, MD
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