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An overview of hand injuries

The human hand consists of 27 bones, including the eight wrist bones. It also consists of a complex structure of nerves, vessels, ligaments, tendons and muscles, which are all prone to personal injury. Read more about what a personal injury is.

Personal injuries to the hand are frequent in the UK and account for around 10% of injuries seen in accident and emergency departments, with hand lacerations and fractures being those most commonly experienced.

A hand injury can not only be very painful but is also a great inconvenience and will usually require patients to take a substantial amount of time off work while it heals. For example, fractures to the hand are not simply broken bones, they are usually accompanied by bruising and swelling which restricts movement and causes stiffness.

Hand injury types and symptoms
The main general types of hand injury are as follows:

Burn injuries - an injury to the skin of the hand caused by heat, electricity, radiation or chemicals. Symptoms include: loss of tissue, redness, blistering and change in texture to the skin.

Crush injuries - this occurs when the hand is subjected to high impact force or pressure and is usually caused by the hand being squashed between two heavy objects. Symptoms include: fracture, bleeding, bruising and lacerations.

Fractures and dislocations - a fracture is a break in the bone and a dislocation is the complete misplacement of the joint surfaces. Symptoms include: tenderness, swelling, deformity and a decreased range of motion.

Infections - invasion by, and multiplication of, pathogenic micro-organisms in the hand which can lead to further tissue injury. Symptoms include: redness, local warmth and fever (although rare).

Lacerations and bites - these are quite literally cuts or puncture wounds to the hand or fingers that vary in severity. Symptoms include: pain, bleeding, numbness and weakness.

Soft tissue injuries and amputations - soft tissue injuries are injuries to the ligaments, tendons and fibres that connect the bones. An amputation is the most serious hand injury which results in the surgical removal of the hand. Symptoms include: tenderness, deformity, swelling and numbness.

Other specific injuries to the hand and fingers include:

Arthritis - inflammation of the metacarpophalangeal joints which causes pain, swelling, stiffness and restricted movement.

Bennett's fracture - a fracture-dislocation at the base of the thumb, where the Deep Ulnar ligament becomes detached from the bone and causes the joint to dislocate. This is usually suffered by sportsmen such as boxers and rugby players and causes severe pain and swelling to the thumb and wrist.

Repetitive Strain Injury - or RSI is damage to the tendons, nerves and soft tissues caused by a repetitive motion such as typing. This can cause pain and numbness from the hands, fingers and wrists right through the arms to the shoulder and neck area.

Skier's thumb - damage to the Ulnar collateral ligament at the base of the thumb, also known as gamekeeper's thumb. This can cause instability in the joint and although the thumb is flexible and strong. Any injuries that weaken its base can lead to further pain, stiffness and arthritis.

Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome and Vibration White Finger - HAV and VWF are conditions where the blood vessels in the hand constrict and decrease blood flow. They are triggered by the continuous use of vibrating hand-held machinery and can develop from other conditions such as Raynaud's phenomenon.

Hand injury diagnosis and treatment
It is vital that any hand injuries are diagnosed and treated quickly to minimise pain and discomfort in the short-term and decrease the chances of long-term effects, such as arthritis, developing. Common treatments and diagnoses include:

Evaluation to determine the severity of the injury

General hand, finger and thumb injury compensation amounts
As the hands are both functionally and cosmetically significant parts of the upper body, the loss of a hand is valued closely to the loss of the whole arm. Higher compensation awards will be made to those with injuries to their dominant hand; that is those who are right handed and suffer injury to their right hand will gain more compensation.

A rough guide to the amount of compensation that can be expected following a hand injury is as follows:

Vibration White Finger and/or Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome
The amount of compensation awarded depends mainly upon the severity of the symptoms suffered and their impact upon the claimant's work and social life:

Making a personal injury claim today
If you have suffered a personal injury as a result of a car accident, an accident at work, medical negligence or in any other incident that wasn't your fault then you may be entitled to make a compensation claim.

We can help you to claim for pain, suffering, lost earnings and medical expenses. We may even be able to arrange for you to receive free medical treatment from a specialist in your area.

We work on a no win, no fee basis. What this means is that, in the event your case is not successful, you won't be charged a penny. It means that making a claim is a completely risk free process - this lets you focus on getting better, not worrying about money.

To find out more or to make a personal injury claim, call us today on 0800 197 32 32.