We’re here to lend a hand – common conditions of the hand and elbow

February 23, 2021

Carrying groceries, wrapping a present, lifting an item off the ground – these are all tasks that require the use of your hands, wrists, or elbows. They are also tasks that most people take for granted if they aren’t experiencing pain in these areas.

Those who do experience pain in the hand, wrist, or elbow know how much it can affect daily life–but what causes this pain and how can it be treated? Here are the most common conditions the doctors in our Hand & Elbow Center treat, as well as their causes and common treatment approaches.

  1. Carpal tunnel syndrome: This condition of the hand and fingers is caused by pressure on the median nerve. As this nerve is compressed, it causes symptoms such as tingling, numbness, burning, or weakness in the hand and arm. It can be caused by repetitive hand motions, the anatomy of your wrist, or other health problems. If diagnosed early, nonsurgical methods can improve the symptoms, such as splinting or taking medication to reduce inflammation. If left untreated, it can lead to a lack of coordination or weakness in the fingers and thumb.

  2. Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis): This is the most common reason patients see a specialist for elbow pain. This painful condition occurs when the tendons in your arm are overloaded, like through the repetitive movements of gripping or swinging a tennis racket. Despite the name, it can affect non-athletes and people of all ages. Tennis elbow can often get better without surgical treatment, but severe cases may require physical therapy or surgery.

  3. Ganglion cysts: These are lumps commonly found in the wrist. These fluid-filled cysts are noncancerous and may also occur in the ankles and feet. It is not known what triggers these cysts, but it is most common in people between the ages of 15 and 40, as well as gymnasts. The most common treatments for ganglion cysts include immobilization, observation (to see if there is any change in size), and aspiration (draining the fluid). Your doctor may recommend surgery if the cyst continues to return or if pain persists.

  4. Arthritis: Although many people may be aware of the term arthritis, they may not know the symptoms and how it affects certain areas of the body. This condition is the breakdown of cartilage around joints, which results in pain, stiffness, and inflammation. Some patients report a decreased range of motion, as well as tenderness or warmth and redness in the joint. Treatment of this condition is aimed to relieve pain through anti-inflammatory medication and a reduction in physical activity. In some cases, more powerful drugs, physical therapy, or surgery may be discussed.

  5. Overuse: The most common causes of pain in the hand, wrist, and elbow are related to overuse. Repetitive motion, sports injuries, or a fall on an outstretched hand can cause dislocations and fractures. Symptoms vary based on the specific degree of pain and area, but they generally include pain, tenderness, stiffness, and limited range of motion. For these injuries, a conservative treatment of ice, rest, and anti-inflammatory medications is recommended. If the pain persists, there are both nonsurgical and surgical options.

Don’t let persistent pain prevent you from enjoying the things you love. If you or someone you know is experiencing pain in the hand, wrist, or elbow, call to make an appointment with one of our three fellowship-trained hand and elbow surgeons, Dr. Thomas M. Barbour, III, Dr. J. Nicholas Rachel, or Dr. Colin W. Swigler. The Hand & Elbow Center experts at The Orthopaedic Group, P.C., provide surgical and nonsurgical treatment for all types of injuries and conditions affecting the hand, wrist, and elbow. Each doctor has specialty fellowship training in the hand and microvascular surgery or hand and upper extremity surgery.

For more than 40 years, patients throughout the Gulf Coast have chosen our orthopaedic doctors at The Orthopaedic Group, P.C., for specialized care in the spine, shoulder and elbow, hand and wrist, hip and knee, and foot and ankle.

Our fellowship-trained doctors have extensive education and experience in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating all orthopaedic injuries and conditions.

Experienced, Expert care for over 40 years.