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Symptoms and Signs of Hand Injuries

Doctor's Notes on Hand Injuries

Hand injuries are traumatic injury to any of the structures in the hand, such as bones, tendons, joints, nerves, or soft tissues. Hand injuries may arise due to numerous causes including falls, accidents, motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, or repetitive use injury. Some types of hand injury include carpal tunnel syndrome, fractures of bone, joint damage, sprains, and strains.

Signs and symptoms of hand injuries depend upon the cause of the injury and its severity. Pain is typically present and may be mild to severe. Symptoms can include deformity of the hand, bleeding, bruising, damage to the skin, swelling, redness, or warmth. Other associated symptoms can include numbness, tingling, pain when moving the joints, limited range of motion or immobility, or inability to use the hand.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/20/2019

Hand Injuries Symptoms

The symptoms of hand injuries can vary depending on the type of injury, how the injury occurred (mechanism), depth, severity, and location.

Common symptoms of hand injuries

Lacerations

  • Tenderness (pain)
  • Bleeding
  • Numbness
  • Decrease range of motion (difficulty moving)
  • Weakness
  • Pallor (pale or bloodless)

Fractures and dislocations

  • Tenderness
  • Deformity
  • Swelling and discoloration
  • Decrease range of motion
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Bleeding

Soft tissue injuries and amputations

  • Tenderness
  • Deformity (with or without tissue and bone loss)
  • Swelling and discoloration
  • Bleeding
  • Weakness
  • Numbness

Infections

  • Tenderness
  • Local warmth
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Fever (rare in hand infections)
  • Deformity
  • Decrease range of motion

Burns

  • Tenderness or complete numbness
  • Deformity
  • Discoloration
  • Loss of tissue
  • Change in texture of skin
  • Redness
  • Blistering
  • Black areas of tissue

High pressure injuries

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Occasional skin discoloration

Hand Injuries Causes

Hand injuries can be divided into six general categories:

  1. lacerations (cuts),
  2. fractures and dislocations,
  3. soft tissue injuries and amputations,
  4. infections,
  5. burns, and
  6. high pressure injuries (grease and paint guns).

Other common hand injuries include

Picture of the bones in the hand

Pain-Relief Tips for Bumps, Bruises, Sprains, and Strains in Pictures Slideshow

Pain-Relief Tips for Bumps, Bruises, Sprains, and Strains in Pictures Slideshow

Strains happen when you injure a muscle or tendon -- the fibrous tissue that attaches muscle to bone. Sprains occur when you hurt a ligament, which connects the end of one bone to another. For both injuries, the answer is often RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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