What are wrist and hand ligament and tendon tears?

The hands and wrists contain small bones and joints supported by muscles, ligaments, and tendons, which provide stability and movement. Ligaments connect bone to bone whereas tendons connect muscle to bone. When a ligament is stretched or torn, the injury is called a sprain. A strain occurs when muscles or tendons are stretched or torn. Both ligament and tendon tears can occur in the hand and wrist.

What are the symptoms of tendon and ligament tears?

Ligament and tendon tears of the hands are classified according to severity by degree:

First degree: You may experience mild pain and bruising which can affect your ability to perform the usual tasks.

Second degree: This level of injury may involve prolonged pain, swelling, weakness, and reduction in range of motion.

Third degree: The tendon or ligament tears completely. You may hear a pop as it occurs. Symptoms include pain and limited range of motion and possible weakness.

Shirtless man wrapping hand at the gym

What causes ligament and tendon tears?

Ligament tears often occur when breaking a fall with an outstretched hand. The joints in the middle of the fingers and the knuckle of the thumb are susceptible to injury in a fall. Wrist sprains are usually caused by falls or sudden twisting motions. Tendon tears can occur during sports such as skiing, but may also be caused by overuse from activities such as typing or working with the hands.

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