Following a hand injury, many structures within the hand may be injured. These structures include the skin, ligaments, tendons, bones, nerves and blood vessels. It may be difficult to assess which, if any, of these structures, are injured and the significance of the injuries. Should the injury be significant, or if in doubt, it is important to have an appropriate qualified medical practitioner assess your injury and direct treatment where required.
Hand structures that can be injured
Some small skin injuries may heal with nil or minimal treatment. Major skin injuries may require suturing, or reconstructive procedures including the use of skin grafts or flaps. Wounds will often require washing out to reduce the risk of infection.
Some minor ligament injuries require no treatment and will recover spontaneously. Others may need hand therapy to regain motion or a splint to assist healing of the ligament injury. Some ligaments injuries will require surgical repair or reconstruction.
The majority of tendon injuries will require surgical repair, careful splinting and hand therapy to reach maximum recovery following the injury. If mindful care is not undertaken, then stiffness, tendon rupture or lack of function may be the result.
Hand fractures can more often be treated with taping, splinting or plaster casts. This may require expert application and monitoring of progress. Some hand fractures will require operative treatment. It is important that hand fractures are assessed and treated by appropriate qualified medical practitioner and therapists.
Nerves in the hand are often injured after wounds in the area have occurred Should nerve injury be suspected or possible, wounds will require surgical exploration and the nerves repaired. Once repaired nerves will not function immediately and will take months to years to regain maximal recovery. In addition, injured nerves never fully recover, with the amount of recovery dependent upon factors, including the type of injury and your age (nerves recover more fully in younger people).
Blood vessels may be injured in the hand, causing bleeding and sometimes pressure effects in the hand. Significant blood vessel injury often requires surgical exploration and repair. The repair of blood vessels can cause clotting, therefore, some patients will need to be monitored in hospital for some days post-operatively, and others may require further surgery in the event of any problems.