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Overview of Hand Disorders

By

David R. Steinberg

, MD, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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Hand and finger disorders include ganglia Ganglia Ganglia are swellings that occur over joints or on coverings of tendons in the hands and wrists and that contain a jellylike fluid. It is not known why ganglia develop. Ganglia usually do not... read more Ganglia , deformities Hand and finger deformities Hand and finger disorders include ganglia, deformities, disorders related to nerves or blood vessels, osteoarthritis, trigger finger, Kienböck disease, and infections. Some other disorders that... read more Hand and finger deformities , disorders related to nerves Nerve compression syndromes of the hand Hand and finger disorders include ganglia, deformities, disorders related to nerves or blood vessels, osteoarthritis, trigger finger, Kienböck disease, and infections. Some other disorders that... read more Nerve compression syndromes of the hand or blood vessels, osteoarthritis Osteoarthritis of the Hand Osteoarthritis of the hand causes swelling, pain, and sometimes formation of cysts on the finger joints (particularly the outermost ones). Osteoarthritis of the hand causes bones over the outermost... read more Osteoarthritis of the Hand , trigger finger Trigger Finger Trigger finger is locking of a finger in a bent position caused by inflammation of a tendon in the finger. (See also Overview of Hand Disorders.) The cause of trigger finger is unknown. Trigger... read more Trigger Finger , Kienböck disease Kienböck Disease Kienböck disease is the death of bone due to an impaired blood supply (osteonecrosis) affecting the lunate bone in the hand. (See also Overview of Hand Disorders.) The lunate bone is one of... read more , and infections.

Some other disorders that affect the hands and fingers include fractures Hand Fractures Any bone in the hand can be broken. Hand fractures include Fractures of the wrist bones (carpals) Fractures of the bones of the palm (metacarpals) Fractures of the bones of the thumb and fingers... read more , other injuries, rheumatoid arthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis in which joints, usually including those of the hands and feet, are inflamed, resulting in swelling, pain, and often destruction of joints.... read more Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) , tendinitis and tenosynovitis Tendinitis and Tenosynovitis Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon. Tenosynovitis is tendinitis accompanied by inflammation of the protective covering around the tendon (tendon sheath). The cause is not always known. Tendons... read more , De Quervain syndrome De Quervain Syndrome De Quervain syndrome is swelling and inflammation of the tendons or tendon sheaths that move the thumb outward. (See also Overview of Hand Disorders.) De Quervain syndrome usually occurs after... read more , Raynaud syndrome Raynaud Syndrome Raynaud syndrome, a functional peripheral arterial disease, is a condition in which small arteries (arterioles), usually in the fingers or toes, narrow (constrict) more tightly than normal in... read more Raynaud Syndrome , finger clubbing Clubbing Clubbing is enlargement of the tips of the fingers or toes and a change in the angle where the nails emerge. Clubbing occurs when the amount of soft tissue beneath the nail beds increases. It... read more Clubbing , complex regional pain syndrome Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Complex regional pain syndrome is characterized by persistent burning or aching pain plus certain abnormalities that occur in the same area as the pain. Abnormalities include increased or decreased... read more , and certain birth defects Overview of Birth Defects Birth defects, also called congenital anomalies, are physical abnormalities that occur before a baby is born. They are usually obvious within the first year of life. The cause of many birth... read more .

Hand and finger deformities

Hand and finger infections

Human and animal bites can cause an infection of the hands (see Hand Infections Caused By Bites Hand Infections Caused By Bites The most common human bite–related infection of the hand is injury to the knuckles of a person who punches another person in the mouth (called a clenched fist injury or fight bite). Animal bites... read more ). Some other infections are felon Felon A felon is an infection of the soft tissue (pulp) of the fingertip, usually caused by bacteria. A felon can lead to a pocket of pus (abscess) inside the fingertip, which creates pressure on... read more Felon , herpetic whitlow Herpetic Whitlow Herpetic whitlow is a viral infection of the fingertip. (See also Overview of Hand Disorders.) Herpes simplex virus (similar to the one that causes fever blisters) may cause an intense, painful... read more Herpetic Whitlow , hand abscess Hand Abscess A hand abscess is an accumulation of pus affecting the hand, usually caused by a bacterial infection. (See also Overview of Hand Disorders.) Abscesses in the hands are fairly common and usually... read more Hand Abscess , infection of the tendon sheath Infection of the Tendon Sheath in the Fingers A bacterial infection can develop in the tendon sheath that surrounds the tendons in the palm and inside of the fingers. (See also Overview of Hand Disorders.) Pockets of pus (abscesses) may... read more , and paronychia Acute Paronychia Acute paronychia is a bacterial infection of the cuticle. In acute paronychia, bacteria (usually Staphylococcus aureus or streptococci) enter through a break in the skin resulting from a hangnail... read more Acute Paronychia (a bacterial infection of the skin around the fingernail) . Hand and finger infections can cause constant, intense, throbbing pain.

Doctors base the diagnosis of hand and finger infections on an examination and sometimes x-rays.

Most hand infections are treated with antibiotics taken by mouth or by vein and sometimes surgery.

Nerve compression syndromes of the hand

In these syndromes, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure on the nerve if symptoms are severe despite other treatments or if there is persistent loss of sensation or weakness.

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