The median nerve travels under the transverse carpal ligament.
The nerve is pinched in carpal tunnel syndrome.
This is the nerve that gets cut when people try to slit their wrists.
The arteries are so small in the wrist; people rarely die from this type of suicide attempt. However, they live with a lot of tissue damage. They are not able to move the thumb towards the little finger, so it is hard to pick up small objects. This is called “ape hand”.
Supplies flexor carpi ulnaris
Damage can cause claw hand; cannot adduct or abduct fingers
Supplies muscles on the posterior arm and forearm
Extensor carpi radialis
Extensor digitorum communis
Damage can cause wrist drop
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
Arteries of the Upper Extremity
Superficial palmar arch
Anterior interosseous artery
Arteries of the Upper Extremity
Subclavian (becomes axillary artery in armpit)
Axillary (becomes brachial artery in arm)
Supplies triceps brachii
Brachial (divides into radial and ulnar arteries when it reaches the elbow)
Supplies arm muscles except triceps brachii
Susan reports shoulder pain located at the proximal lateral humerus. The pain is worse when sleeping on the right shoulder, and also when she elevates her arm.
Her pain may be from the rotator cuff, bursitis, or biceps tendonitis.
Pain from laying on the shoulder is consistent with pain originating from the subacromial space. The humerus compresses the bursa there when laying on the affected side.
When the arm is elevated and especially when carrying a load in that position, the subacromial bursa is compressed.
As the supraspinatus muscle contracts in this position, the blood supply to its tendon is impinged. Repeating these motions during the day may cause a supraspinatus tendon tear, since its nutrient vessels are pinched.
The supraspinatus muscle participates in humeral elevation throughout its range of motion, especially the first 5-10 degrees, so it is under tension most of a person’s waking hours and is vulnerable to tensile overload. The trapezius then takes over most of the rest of the range of motion.
Supraspinatus is the most vulnerable of the cuff muscles.
Rotator cuff tendinitis produces pain between 60-120 degrees of humeral elevation in relation to the trunk. This range is called the painful arc. Beyond 120 degrees, the tendons have cleared the coracoacromial arch.
If the pain occurs beyond 120 degrees, it is more likely to be from degeneration of the acromial-clavicular joint.
Rotator Cuff Injury Symptoms
Pain and tenderness in the shoulder, especially when reaching overhead, reaching behind the back, lifting, pulling or sleeping on the affected side.
Causes of Rotator Cuff Injuries
Normal wear and tear.
Poor posture. When you slouch your neck and shoulders forward, the space where the rotator cuff muscles reside can become smaller. This can allow a muscle or tendon to become pinched under your shoulder bones (including your collarbone), especially during overhead activities, such as throwing.
Falling. Using your arm to break a fall or falling on your arm
Lifting or pulling. Lifting an object overhead Likewise, pulling something, such as a high-poundage archery bow, may cause an injury.
Repetitive overhead movement. This occurs often in athletes, especially baseball pitchers, swimmers and tennis players. It's also common among people in the building trades, such as painters and carpenters.
Serratus anterior and trapezius both abduct the arm. Trapezius can abduct the arm through its full range of motion, although it is weaker without serratus anterior.
Overuse and damage to trapezius can result in a shoulder shrug motion when trying to elevate the arm, and fatigue and pain in that muscle.
An upper-trapezius strain can be triggered quite easily by consistently overusing the muscle group, even at a low intensity. Because repetitive motions do not allow the affected tissue to rest between movements, they can cause stress and irritation.
The members of today’s work force don’t often get up to sharpen a pencil, fax documents or walk to the post office to deliver a package. The easy and convenient access of working tools promotes inactivity and therefore a rise in repetitive stress injuries associated with desk and computer work. Simple, everyday movements—like habitually holding a telephone between the ear and shoulder—can trigger upper trapezius pain.
Upper Trapezius Strain
It is easy to understand how the upper trapezius could be in a state of active insufficiency in certain situations; for example, when the shoulder is elevated and the neck is extended, side-bent and rotated, as when you are cradling a phone between your ear and shoulder.
Shrugging the shoulders and overhead movements also fatigue trapezius.
Throughout the day, the upper trapezius might be actively insufficient, while, alternatively, the rhomboids might be passively insufficient (when the shoulders are rounded).
Developing better posture and moving out of these positions intermittently throughout the workday will place the muscles back at their optimal length.
Trapezius Exercises at the Office
Sitting with upright posture, perform 15–20 reps an hour of the following upper trapezius exercises.
1. Scapular Pinches. Roll the shoulders back, and pinch the shoulder blades together.
2. Shoulder Shrugs. Raise the shoulders up toward the ears, then lower them back down.
3. Neck Side-Bending. Tilt one ear toward the shoulder, and hold briefly.
4. Neck Rotation. Look over one shoulder, and pause briefly.
5. Neck Stretch.
In a standing or seated position, place the right hand on top of the head and let the left arm rest at the side.
Gently pull the head toward the right shoulder with the right hand.
Rotate the head down and look at the right hip. (The stretch should be felt on the left side of the neck/shoulder area.)
Repeat on the opposite side.
When the elbow joint capsule is inflamed, the patient holds the elbow flexed at about 80 degrees.
That is the position at which the least amount of tension is present in the joint capsule and surrounding structures.
Most elbow pain results from overuse injuries; many sports, hobbies and jobs require repetitive hand, wrist or arm movements.
Elbow pain may occasionally be due to arthritis, but in general, your elbow joint is much less prone to wear-and-tear damage than are many other joints.
Common Causes of Elbow Pain
Fractures, ligament sprains and muscle and tendon tears
Dislocation; usually caused by a fall. Children may dislocate the head of the radius from being pulled by the arm (nursemaid’s elbow).
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) from forceful extension of wrist; wrist extension is painful. Diagnose by resisting extension of third finger, creating pain in lateral epicondyle.
Golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis) from repeatedly flexing wrists or clenching fingers
Cubital tunnel syndrome, ulnar nerve on the inside of the elbow is irritated or injured
Little league elbow syndrome (pitcher's elbow) — an injury mainly affecting children and rapidly growing adolescents involved in throwing sports such as baseball
Olecranon bursitis — inflammation of a small sac of fluid (olecranon bursa) on the tip of your elbow
Osteochondritis dissecans - Caused by reduced blood flow to the end of a bone, occurs most often in young men, particularly after an injury to a joint.
Radial tunnel syndrome, which occurs when the radial nerve becomes compressed just beyond the elbow (sometimes called resistant tennis elbow)
Treatment of Elbow and Wrist Pain
Forearm support bands
Oral anti-inflammatory medicines
George has been a computer programmer for 20 years. He has numbness in his right hand on the thumb, index finger, and middle finger.
Tapping on the carpal tunnel causes parathesias (tingling) in the median nerve distribution (positive Tinel’s sign).
Placing his wrist in sustained flexion for one minute also causes the parathesias (positive Phalen’s test).
Treatment began with splinting the wrist in neutral position and patient education for proper ergonomics (use a wrist pad while typing).
After trauma to the hand, a custom-fabricated splint is provided for support and protection during healing.
Because the collateral ligaments of the MP joints are slack with extension, immobilization in MP extension would place the collateral ligaments at risk for adaptive shortening, limiting joint flexion, which impairs grasp.
A splint should place the MP joints in flexion. The IP joints should be held in extension to reduce the risk of flexion contractures. The thumb should be placed in slight abduction to prevent contracture.
Ulnar Nerve Damage: Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
When the medial epicondyle is struck while the elbow is flexed, the ulnar nerve can be damaged.
The extensor digitorum muscle alone can extend the IP joints of the two small fingers if full MPJ extension is prevented. The splint is shaped so the flexor digitorum longus can still flex.
Ulnar nerve damage can cause claw hand because the flexors become weak, giving the extensors a mechanical advantage, pulling the two little fingers into a claw.
The little finger may also assume an MPJ abduction position, called Wartenberg’s sign.
Trigger finger is one example of the disability that can be created when repetitive trauma to a flexor tendon results in the formation of nodules on the tendon. Finger flexion may be prevented completely, or the finger may be unable to re-extend.
Upper extremity fractures are among the most common of the extremity injuries with carpal fractures accounting for 18% of hand fractures and 6 percent of all fractures.
Of these, fractures to bones of the proximal row are most frequent.
Fractures of the pisiform bone occur less often than fractures of the scaphoid, lunate, or triquetrum (triangular).
Pisiform fractures account for 1-3% of all carpal bone osseous injuries
Most commonly the pisiform is injured in a fall on the outstretched hand with the wrist in extension or if the heel of the hand is used like a hammer.
When the wrist is in this position, the flexor carpi ulnaris tendon compresses the pisiform to the triquetrum.
These mechanisms can create an avulsion fracture of the distal aspect of the pisiform, a linear fracture, or a chondral injury to its dorsal surface. The bone may need to be removed surgically.
Being an anchor for several ligamentous attachments, and the origin of the abductor digiti minimi, there is a 50% chance of an associated injury to the distal radius or to another carpal bone when a fracture of the pisiform is identified.
Scaphoid fractures are among the most common injuries.
They frequently occur following a fall onto an outstretched hand.
X-rays taken soon after the injury may not reveal a fracture, but the clinician should assume one is present until definitive proof otherwise is obtained.
Of all carpal fractures, scaphoid fractures are by far the most common, accounting for 10% of all hand fractures and 60-70% of all carpal fractures.
The anatomical snuffbox is a triangular deepening on the radial, dorsal aspect of the hand—at the level of the carpal bones, specifically, the scaphoid and trapezium bones forming the floor.
The name originates from the use of this surface for placing and then sniffing powdered tobacco, or “snuff.”
The radius and scaphoid articulate deep to the snuffbox to form the basis of the wrist joint. In the event of a fall onto an outstretched hand, this is the area through which the brunt of the force will focus.
This results in these two bones being the most often fractured of the wrist. In a case where there is localized tenderness within the snuffbox, the fracture is likely to be of the scaphoid.
The scaphoid is a small, oddly shaped bone whose purpose is to facilitate mobility rather than confer stability to the wrist joint.
In the event of inordinate application of force over the wrist, this small scaphoid is clearly likely to be the weak link.
Interestingly, scaphoid fracture is one of the most frequent causes of medico-legal issues.
An interesting anatomical anomaly in the vascular supply to the scaphoid is the area to which the blood supply is first delivered.
Blood enters the scaphoid distally. Consequently, in the event of a fracture the proximal segment of the scaphoid will be devoid of a vascular supply, and will—if action is not taken—avascularly necrose within a sufferer's snuffbox.
Due to the small size of the scaphoid and its shape, it is difficult to determine, early on, whether or not the scaphoid is indeed fractured with an x-ray.