You rely on your hands and wrists to perform a number of daily functions, from brushing your teeth to typing out emails; because of such regular use, hand and wrist injuries are common. At Wisconsin River Orthopaedics, the team specializes in diagnosing and treating hand and wrist injuries – we even have on-staff hand therapists who help relieve your pain and restore normal function.

For expert care of your hand or wrist injury, call (715) 424-1881.

What are common hand and wrist injuries?

There are many types of hand and wrist injuries; some of the most common include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
  • De Quervain’s tenosynovitis
  • Dislocations
  • Fractures
  • Sprains and strains
  • Trigger finger

Overuse of your hand or wrist can lead to injuries, but they may also develop from an accident at work or an acute injury while playing sports. Wisconsin River Orthopaedics specializes in sports medicine and sees a lot of hand and wrist injuries in athletes who play contact sports such as wrestling and football.

When should I seek medical help for hand and wrist injuries?

You may be able to manage a minor hand or wrist injury at home. However, you should seek immediate care from the experts at Wisconsin River Orthopaedics if your hand or wrist injury develops from an acute accident, causes severe pain, or fails to improve within a few days of at-home care.

Our team also recommends you schedule a consultation for your hand or wrist injury if you have an obvious deformity or limited use of the hand or wrist.

How are hand and wrist injuries diagnosed?

The team at Wisconsin River Orthopaedics conducts thorough exams when you come in with concerns about a hand or wrist injury. The goal of the exam is to determine the right diagnosis so you get the best possible care.

Your provider reviews the incident that caused your injury and your immediate symptoms. We examine your hand and wrist to assess strength, mobility, and function.

To confirm a diagnosis, the team may run imaging tests such as X-rays or MRIs. Wisconsin River Orthopaedics has an open MRI machine on-site, so we can get the imaging tests you need right away.

How are hand and wrist injuries treated?

Treatment for hand and wrist injuries varies and depends on the type of injury, the severity of your symptoms, and your overall health.

Initially, the team takes a conservative approach to care; your treatment plan may include:

  • Rest, ice, compression, and elevation
  • Activity modification
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • On-site hand therapy
  • Moist heat and cold therapy
  • Splinting, bracing, or casting
  • Scar and soft tissue massage
  • Ultrasound, iontophoresis, or electrical stimulation to administer medication
  • Neuromuscular re-education
  • Desensitization and sensory re-education
  • Injection therapy

When conservative treatments fail to improve your hand or wrist injury, your orthopaedic expert at Wisconsin River Orthopaedics may recommend surgical intervention. Our skilled surgeons perform many procedures to address a wide range of needs, including wrist or thumb arthroplasty, arthroscopy, and nerve or tendon repair.

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in your wrist made up of bones, ligaments and tendons. It serves as the passageway for your median nerve, which is one of the main sensory and motor nerves in your hand.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of neuropathy that develops from compression or pinching of the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel. The compression can develop from inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the carpal tunnel or an injury that changes its normal structure.

What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms tend to start gradually and worsen over time. Common symptoms include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the thumb, index, middle, or ring finger
  • Pain or tingling that travels up the arm
  • Electric shock-like sensations in the hand or fingers
  • Muscle weakness that affects your grip

Getting an early diagnosis and treatment plan in place for your carpal tunnel syndrome may prevent permanent nerve damage. If you have carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, the team at Wisconsin River Orthopaedics can help.

How is carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosed?

Wisconsin River Orthopaedics performs a thorough examination to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome. They review your symptoms, usual activities, and medical history. Your provider examines your hand and wrist. Then, they perform various tests to assess function to determine if carpal tunnel syndrome is responsible for your symptoms.

To confirm a diagnosis and determine the extent of your nerve damage, your provider may request nerve conduction studies, X-rays, and an MRI. Wisconsin River Orthopaedics has an open MRI machine on-site.

How is carpal tunnel syndrome treated?

Wisconsin River Orthopaedics takes a conservative approach to care. Initially, the team recommends non-surgical treatments to alleviate symptoms and stop or slow down the progression of the nerve damage.

Your treatment plan may include:

  • Activity modification
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Bracing or splinting
  • On-site hand therapy
  • Steroid injections

If non-surgical interventions fail to improve your carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, the orthopaedic surgeons may recommend carpal tunnel release surgery. During the procedure, your surgeon will release the ligament that forms the roof of your carpal tunnel to create more room for the nerve and therefore take pressure off of the nerve.

Trigger finger, or stenosing tenosynovitis, develops when a flexor tendon in your hand becomes inflamed and swells. The result is pain and stiffness in the finger that the tendon controls. A tender bump is also likely to appear at the base of the affected finger, near your palm. You could experience a catching or locking sensation when you move your trigger finger.

Symptoms are usually mild at first, but the condition typically worsens. Eventually, you may be unable to straighten your finger if it locks into position when bent. Trigger finger can affect any digit but is most likely to occur in your ring finger. You can also get trigger thumb.

Why would I get trigger finger?

Trigger finger is more likely to develop if you have certain medical conditions, like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, or you've had surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. Using your hands in a certain way over the years can also aggravate the tendon and lead to the development of trigger finger. Trigger finger can affect anyone but is more common in women.

How is trigger finger treated?

The hand specialists at Wisconsin River Orthopaedics work closely with you and the orthopaedic team to provide a continuum of care when treating your trigger finger.

Treatment usually begins with non-invasive approaches such as:

  • Rest and activity modification
  • Splinting your trigger finger at night
  • Oral anti-inflammatory medications
  • Range-of-motion and strengthening exercises

While these methods are helpful in some cases, if your condition is more advanced, you might need steroid injections into the tendon sheath as well. These injections reduce inflammation and enable your tendon to glide more freely within the sheath. Steroid injections are often effective for a year or longer, and you might need more than one treatment.

Would I need surgery for trigger finger?

If non-invasive treatments don’t work, you can undergo a surgical procedure to cut the affected tendon. Surgery for trigger finger, called tenolysis or trigger finger release, is performed to increase the space for your flexor tendon to move freely; your flexor tendon helps allow your finger to bend and flex. After the procedure, the finger can bend and straighten without pain.

For expert help with trigger finger or thumb, call Wisconsin River Orthopaedics at (715) 424-1881.