Wrist, hand and finger injuries

Problems with the wrist, hand, and fingers are common and can be caused by simple things like carrying out repetitive tasks or an injury during sport or a fall.

As you get older, normal wear and tear can cause your problem to flare-up now and again, often for no reason.

Your wrist, hand or finger problem should improve over the next 6 weeks

Keeping active

Keeping active is an essential part of your treatment and recovery and is the single best thing you can do for your health.

Being physically active throughout your recovery can:

  • prevent a recurrence of the problem
  • maintain your current levels of fitness – even if you have to modify what you normally do, any activity is better than none
  • keep your other muscles and joints strong and flexible
  • prevent weight gain

More about keeping active 

Resting or moving?

Within the first 24 to 48 hours after a wrist, hand or finger injury you should try to:

  • rest your wrist, hand or finger but avoid long spells of not moving at all
  • move your wrist, hand or finger gently for 10 to 20 seconds every hour when you are awake

After 48 hours:

  • Try to use your arm more - exercise really helps your foot and can relieve pain
  • Do whatever you normally would and stay at, or return to work - this is important and is the best way to get better

Avoid sports or heavy lifting until you have less discomfort and good movement.

What about sports?

You should take your time before taking part in any sports after a wrist, hand or finger problem. If you take part in sports too soon this may flare up your symptoms again and they make take longer to settle.

Before doing sports, you should:

  • have no swelling
  • be able to move your wrist, hand or finger properly through full range of movement
  • have full or close to full strength

Remember to stretch and warm up fully before sports.

Can my wrist, hand or finger problem cause trouble anywhere else?

You may feel pain and stiffness in your forearm. This should improve as your problem gets better.

You might also feel numbness, burning or a tingling sensation in your hand and fingers. You should discuss these with your doctor if they don't settle in 6 weeks.

Do I need to see my doctor?

You don't normally need to see your doctor if you follow the right advice and take the right medication.

Your wrist, hand or finger problem should improve over the next 6 weeks.

If you experience any of the following, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible:

  • Your wrist or fingers are misshapen
  • Unable to move your wrist, hand or fingers
  • Your wrist, hand and fingers are swollen or hot
  • You have pain and stiffness in the small joints in your hand in the mornings that takes more than 30 minutes to settle
  • Pain that worsens
  • Your wrist, hand or finger problem has not improved within 6 weeks

Find your nearest GP practice

Musculoskeletal (MSK) Helpline

If you have a wrist, hand or finger problem, the Musculoskeletal Advice and Triage Service (MATS) can provide information and advice to help with your problem, and refer you to a healthcare professional if you need it.
How to contact