Hand Nerve Injuries: Diagnosis & Treatment

Hand injuries are a common occurrence, whether it's from a sports injury, an accident, or even just overuse. But what happens when you start experiencing tingling, numbness, or weakness in your hand? These symptoms could indicate that you have damaged a nerve in your hand. Nerve damage can be a severe issue, and it's crucial to recognize the signs and seek treatment to avoid potential long-term consequences.

In this blog, we'll explore how to know if you've damaged a nerve in your hand and what steps you should take to promote healing.

What is a nerve?

To understand nerve damage, we must first understand what a nerve is. Nerves are bundles of fibers that transmit signals between the brain and body. They are responsible for sending messages to our muscles, organs, and skin, allowing us to move, feel, and sense our environment. 

On the other hand, there are three primary nerves: the median nerve, the ulnar nerve, and the radial nerve. These nerves control the movement and sensation in different areas of the hand, and damage to any of them can result in various symptoms.

Signs of nerve damage in the hand

Nerve damage in the hand can manifest in multiple ways, but some common symptoms to look out for include

  1. Numbness or tingling sensation in your hand
  2. Muscle weakness in the hand
  3. Reduced sense of touch
  4. Sharp, shooting pain that radiates from your hand to your arm
  5. Changes in skin color or temperature

What causes nerve damage in the hand?

There are numerous possible causes of nerve damage in the hand, including:

  1. Sudden impact, injury, or trauma to the hand.
  2. Repetitive movements that can lead to strain.
  3. Compressed or squeezing can cause damage.
  4. Diseases or disorders like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis.

What are the most common nerve injuries in the hand?

The hand is one of our body's most complex and vital parts, allowing us to perform various tasks. However, this intricate mechanism is vulnerable to multiple nerve injuries, which can significantly impact our daily lives. Here are some of the most common nerve injuries in the hand: 

  1. Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common nerve injury in the hand and is caused by the compression of the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the palm of the hand. This condition is prevalent among people who perform repetitive hand movements, such as typing or using tools. The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand, which can make it challenging to perform simple tasks.

  1. Cubital tunnel syndrome

This  is another common nerve injury in the hand and is caused by the compression of the ulnar nerve, which runs from the shoulder to the hand. This condition is often seen in individuals who keep their elbows bent for long periods, such as while talking on the phone or sleeping with their arms bent. The symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include numbness, tingling, and weakness in the ring and little fingers.

  1. Radial nerve palsy

Radial nerve palsy is an injury that affects the radial nerve, which travels down the arm and controls movement in the wrist and fingers. This condition can be caused by an injury to the upper arm, elbow, or wrist, resulting in difficulty extending and lifting the hand. Symptoms of radial nerve palsy include hand and wrist weakness, numbness, and inability to open the wrist and fingers.

  1. De Quervain's tenosynovitis

De Quervain's tenosynovitis is a nerve injury that affects the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. It is commonly seen in individuals who perform repetitive thumb movements, such as gardening, texting, or playing video games. The symptoms of this condition include pain, swelling, and stiffness in the wrist and thumb area.

  1. Ulnar nerve entrapment

Ulnar nerve entrapment is a nerve injury that occurs when the ulnar nerve, which runs down the inner side of the elbow, becomes compressed or irritated. This condition can be caused by repetitive elbow movements, such as throwing or using crutches. The symptoms include numbness, tingling, weakness in the ring, and little fingers.

What are the treatment options for nerve damage in the hand?

Nerves are essential for movement and sensation; injury can significantly impact daily activities. So, what are the treatment options for nerve damage in the hand? Let's explore.

  1. Physical therapy

Physical therapy is often the first recommended treatment for nerve damage in the hand. A physical therapist can help strengthen the muscles and improve hand coordination through exercises and stretches. They may also use ultrasound, electrical nerve stimulation, or massage to help decrease pain and improve nerve function.

  1. Medications

Medications can help manage the symptoms of nerve damage in the hand. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin can help reduce pain and inflammation. Doctors may prescribe stronger pain medications or anti-inflammatory drugs in more severe cases. Additionally, medications like antidepressants or anti-seizure drugs can help manage nerve-related pain.

  1. Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy focuses on helping individuals with nerve damage in the hand to perform daily activities at work and home. It involves learning new ways to use the hand, adapting to physical limitations, and using assistive devices, if necessary. Occupational therapists also work on improving hand sensation and fine motor skills.

  1. Surgery

Surgery may sometimes be necessary to treat nerve damage in the hand. This can include procedures like nerve decompression, where the compressed nerve is freed from any surrounding structures, or nerve grafting, where a healthy nerve is used to repair or replace a damaged one. Surgery may also be needed to repair fractures or other injuries causing nerve damage.

  1. Splints and braces

Wearing a splint or brace can help support and protect the hand while it heals from nerve damage. These devices can also help limit movement and can be used to help correct any deformities caused by nerve damage. They can be custom-made or purchased over the counter, depending on the severity of the injury.

  1. Alternative therapies

Alternative therapy options like acupuncture and biofeedback may also help manage nerve damage in the hand. Acupuncture involves needles placed in specific body points to improve energy flow and reduce pain. On the other hand, Biofeedback uses electronic devices to monitor and provide feedback on particular body functions, helping individuals learn how to control their pain and stress levels.

If you're experiencing nerve damage symptoms in your hand, don't hesitate to seek medical attention to determine the best treatment. Your hands are essential for everyday tasks, and caring for them is crucial for your well-being.

What to do if you suspect nerve damage?

Don't let nerve damage in your hand hold you back from living your best life! If you experience any of the above symptoms or suspect you have damaged a nerve in your hand, seeking medical attention is essential.

At OSA Orthopaedics, our team of specialized doctors in orthopaedics and sports medicine in Boca Raton are equipped to treat and rehabilitate anyone experiencing nerve damage in their hand. Whether it's caused by injury, compression, or a degenerative condition, we have advanced techniques and state-of-the-art technology to help you regain function and alleviate pain.

Come and visit our conveniently located clinics near you:

Say goodbye to limitations and hello to a pain-free hand with OSA Orthopaedics. Don't wait any longer - contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards recovery. Your hands are in good hands with OSA Orthopaedics.


The material on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.


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