Joint Knowledge: The Hand and Wrist

The hand and wrist consist of 27 different bones. Unlike other bones in your anatomy, the physiology of your wrist and hand function to aid in movement. These joints move, roll, and maneuver so that you are better able to grasp objects, form feats of dexterity, and manage tasks that you likely never think about.


The Bones of the Hand

The two bones of the forearm (the ulna and radius) meet at the wrist. 

After the ulna and radius come eight carpal bones, collectively called the carpus. The carpus attaches to the 

Anatomy of the Hand and Wrist

metacarpals, which are the five bones that run the length of your hand and connect to the bones of the fingers, or phalanges.

The hand has multiple joints, as well. There are joints wherever two bones meet. First, let’s start with the most popular joint of the hands. You might call these joints “knuckles” on your fingers, but they have medical names, as well: the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints.

Moving down, from the MCP joints to your fingertips, you’ll find the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joints and the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joints.  PIP joints are found at the midpoint of your fingers, and the DIP joint is located at the end, just before your fingertips. 

You might be wondering about your thumb…there are only two places where it can bend! Instead of the DIP and PIP joints, your thumbs have interphalangeal joints. 

Like other joints in our bodies, our hands and wrists’ joints are covered with a layer of cartilage and enclosed in synovium to help lubricate them for ease of movement.


Tendons and Ligaments

We’ve blogged before about tendons and ligaments and the ways they function in the body. The tendons in the hand are bands of connective tissue that attach muscle to the bone. This attachment allows the muscle to move the bone with the dexterity that you need to complete large and small motor skill functions, from writing with a pencil to buttoning your shirt.

The ligaments are bands of connective tissue that attach the bones to each other and help support movement.


Pain and Injury

There are several possible ways that you can have issues with the joints in your wrist or hand. In many cases, these aches and pains might be minor. They can be the result of overuse or a sprain. 

Vitamin deficiency can also cause issues with feeling in your extremities, and there are certain vitamins known to support nerve function. Some of these vitamins are Vitamin B1, B6, B12, E, and niacin. If you’re looking for more information on the Vitamin B Complex, a previous blog post delves deep into that subject.

Other types of injury to the bones and joints in this area of the body include repetitive motion and impact-related injuries. The kind of treatment you would need to recover from these injuries would depend on the severity and the medical approach to remedy the situation. For instance, a sprain may only need anti-inflammatory medication and heat or ice until the swelling and pain decrease. A break might need surgery or a cast. Therapy is often recommended to recover motion after healing, and the length of time usually depends on the severity of the injury, as well.

There are degenerative issues that can also impact the bones and joints in the hand and wrist. These include carpal tunnel syndrome, which is often caused by repetitive motion. Carpal tunnel is also associated with other health conditions, and some people may be genetically predisposed to this issue. 

You’re more at risk for wrist and hand discomfort if you have a job or activity that calls for repetitive motion, such as typing. Other factors that impact hand and wrist injury include athletic activity and some diseases which can contribute to swelling or injury.

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