Handle with care

Our hands experience a daily workout that can leave them far worse off than just battered and bruised…

We use our hands constantly, making them an integral part of our day-to-day wellbeing. But with more than 22 joints and 38 muscles and tendons, our hand is one of the most complex areas of the body. If you have a hand injury even the smallest of activities can be challenging and frustrating. Here Dr Gunaratnam Shyamalan, a hand and wrist surgeon working from Spire Little Aston, shares his quick guide to some of the most common complaints. And he warns: “You should seek investigation if you are experiencing pain, swelling, reduction in movement and strength. Acting quickly, coupled with the identification of the cause, is important in being able to stop the condition becoming worse and preventing future injury.”


Sports Injuries: From the weekend warrior to the professional athlete, sports enthusiasts can develop a multitude of fractures and ligament tears and these can be potentially disabling. “In many cases an early return back to the sports field is possible with rapid diagnosis and minimally invasive surgery,” said Dr Shyamalan.

Dupuytren’s Contracture: This is a condition mainly affecting the over 50s. It causes one or more fingers to bend into the palm of the hand, affecting one or both hands. It can also affect the thumb. Minimal invasive treatments such as injections and needle therapy can deliver excellent results in treating the condition. In many cases, patients can be back to work with normal function within a few days.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: The nerves that supply the hand originate from the neck and compression can cause pain, weakness, numbness and pins and needles. Resting the affected wrist, taking painkillers and wearing a removable wrist splint can often treat this condition. If symptoms persist for longer than three months or the level of pain becomes intolerable, then a small surgical procedure is carried out to decompress the nerve in the tunnel.

Osteoarthritis: One in three of the UK population over the age of 45 is affected by osteoarthritis. It occurs where the cartilage that protects the joints becomes soft and starts to become damaged. The hand and wrist are especially prone to symptoms. A number of corrective procedures, from arthroscopic keyhole surgery through to joint replacement, are available.

Trigger Finger: Nothing to do with guns… trigger finger affects the tendons in the hand. When the affected finger or thumb is bent towards the palm, the tendon gets stuck and the finger clicks or locks. The exact cause is not known. The symptoms can include pain, stiffness, clicking and a small lump in the palm at the base of the affected finger or thumb.


Only 10 per cent of the population is left-handed – they include celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Justin Beiber, Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt.

The wedding ring is worn on the left ring finger due to the vein in that finger being known as the venna amoris or ‘vein of love’. According to tradition, it is said to directly connect to the heart.

According to the NHS, five in 100 women experience Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in their lifetime. The figure is three in 100 men.

The heaviest lift using the little fingers is 67.5kg achieved by Kristian Holm in Norway on 13 November 2008.


For more information on diagnosis and treatment, contact the Hand & Wrist Service, Spire Little Aston Hospital, 0121 580 7119