The Fingers

Our fingers are marvels, and as long as they work we rarely give them any thought. When they are damaged through injury or subject to disease or other conditions, however, pain and stiffness can make them difficult to ignore. Fingers are very susceptible to breaking, cuts, or jamming, which can injure the extensor or flexor tendons, or can damage the nails. Disease and infection can strike, whether from bites or environmental causes, but prompt and proper medical care can keep our fingers flexing.

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Amputation and Prosthetics

If a hand is lost due to accident or other cause, many replacements are available. A prosthesis that looks very lifelike can be crafted, or you can be fitted with a highly functional device that lets you perform many everyday tasks.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

When the nerve that runs through this tunnel is pressured, tingling, numbness, or pain may be present in the fingers. Many activities or causes can create this condition, and both surgical and non-surgical treatments are used to correct it. If left untreated, this syndrome can lower your quality of life, but it can often be managed or eliminated by visiting a hand or wrist doctor.

Congenital Hand Differences

There are millions of steps involved when an embryo develops into a baby, and sometimes the results aren't typical. Misshapen, missing, or extra fingers can be produced from many causes, including some genetic ones. Often, cosmetic or functional corrections can be made.

De Quervain's Tendonitis

When the tendons at the base of the thumb become irritated because of a new or unexpected repetitive motion, this condition may result. New mothers, especially, are subject, primarily because of new or awkward movements used to care for a baby.

Dupuytren's Disease

This disease causes the fingers, particularly the middle ones, to bend inward, and the hand can no longer be laid flat. While its causes are not known, it is often possible to treat the conditions and permit the fingers to regain their normal positions.

Erb's Palsy (Brachial Plexus Injury)

Injuries to this network of nerves, which extends from the spinal cord to the fingertips, are possible whenever a finger is cut or receives a heavy blow. The fragile nerves can often be repaired through surgery, which can return sensation and feelings to the fingertips.

Extensor Tendon Injuries

The tendons we use to straighten our fingers run close to the skin and can be injured by even a small cut. If the tendons are damaged or severed, a hand surgeon can often correct the condition and restore use of the affected finger.

Fireworks Injuries

Fingers are especially vulnerable when people play with fireworks. Explosives are not toys, and fingers are needlessly lost each year by people celebrating. It's far better - and more fun - to leave fireworks to the professionals and use your hands to hold a loved one or a snack while enjoying the display!

Flexor Tendon Injuries

The tendons we use to move our fingers run through a series of rings or pulleys. If these tendons become injured or damaged, their movement may be hindered and become painful. If the tendon breaks, finger motion may be lost until it is corrected by surgery.

Hand Fractures

While our fingers are strong, they can be broken in many accidents, including those that come from playing sports. When a finger is crushed or bent unnaturally, any of its bones or joints may be fractured. With proper care, continued use of the finger is possible.

Hand Infections

Hand infections are always serious business. Failure to have any possible infection checked and treated by a hand doctor may result in permanent loss of tissue or function. Infections can come from many sources, including environmental ones, but frequently follow cuts or bites.

Human or Animal Bites

Fingers, especially those of children, are one of the more frequent sites for animal bites. Any bite, no matter the source, can develop serious problems from infection. Crushed, torn, or otherwise damaged tissues can also result from a bite.

Nail Bed Injuries

If a nail receives a heavy blow or is crushed, the bed may be injured. This can lead to losing the nail. Prompt attention to the injury may uncover other damage, such as a break in the underlying bone, or can facilitate proper recovery.

Nerve Injuries of the Hand

While some diseases can attack the nerves, they're more often injured in accidents that can cut or crush them. If the nerve or the sheath in which it resides is cut, surgery can often successfully treat the problem.

Osteoarthritis of the Hand

The many joints in the fingers can become worn through use. When osteoarthritis occurs, fingers can become stiff or painful to move. Treatment options range from changing how the fingers are used, through splints, and extend to surgery, depending on the severity of the condition and the appearance of the joints involved.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Feelings of intense burning or strong sensations of pain that are out of proportion to any injury are symptoms of this condition that are caused by a faulty nerve. The nerve continually or frequently sends inappropriate signals or "misfires," and the condition may come from injured nerves.

Replantation of the Fingers

When a finger is lost, it can sometimes be reattached or replanted if it isn't too badly damaged. If this procedure can be performed, your hand doctor will attempt to restore as much normal use of the finger as possible.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This form of arthritis also makes it difficult and painful to use the fingers. Treatment begins with an examination and can include splints, medication, and surgery to correct the damaged lining of the joints.

Tendon Transfer Surgery

If a tendon is lost or too heavily damaged to be repaired, it is sometimes possible to use a healthy one to replace its lost function. A working tendon can be adapted to serve the bone that was moved by the non-working one, with excellent results.

Trigger Finger

Our fingers move by means of a system of tendons that travel through pulleys or rings. When a tendon becomes knotted, this movement can be interrupted or restricted and is usually painful, but this condition can often be corrected.

Vascular Disorders

Repair of the veins and arteries that carry blood to and from the fingers is often possible by surgery. The relatively large amount of blood the fingers require makes it important to maintain the flow.