Considering where your hands are when you’re driving, it’s not surprising that they often end up with serious injuries from traffic crashes. Even if you weren’t driving, thrusting your arms out to brace for impact means your hands likely sustained a great deal of force in the accident.
Some of the most common hand and wrist injuries people suffer in car accidents include:
The bones in your fingers (phalanges), hand (metacarpals), and wrists (carpals) are small and break relatively easily under force. Gripping the steering wheel, grabbing the dashboard, or pressing the inside of a door makes your hands vulnerable to that initial impact, and tensing keeps that force from being distributed into your arms and shoulders.
Even a minor fracture can cause pain, weakness, and disfigurement. Other typical symptoms are swelling, bruising, and crooked or immobile fingers. Signs of a broken hand or broken wrist might not be obvious at first, which is why you should always be examined by a medical professional as quickly as possible after a car accident.
Your wrist connects your arm to your hand and includes the ends of your arm bones (radius and ulna), a collection of eight small carpal bones, and the beginnings of the five metacarpals in your hand. An injury anywhere in the bones or tissues of your arm or hand could impact the wrist.
Wrist injuries can damage the range of motion and rotation you use to pick things up, write, type, craft, play music, or communicate. Again, while this might not seem as scary as some other car accident injuries, it can greatly reduce your quality of life and you may be eligible for compensation.
Dislocation happens when bones are displaced from their proper positions at the joint. We might immediately think of ball-and-socket type injuries, like a dislocated shoulder, but dislocation can happen at any joint for any bone.
Hands that have been in car accidents are very prone to dislocation, especially the middle finger knuckles. Symptoms can include pain, decreased movement and range of motion, swelling, redness, and numbness.
Ligaments hold bones together, including the network of numerous individual bones in your fingers, hand, and wrist. The force of a car crash is often enough to cause tears in that connective tissue. Sprains (excessive stretching of ligaments) can also happen.
Left untreated, seriously damaged ligaments aren’t likely to heal properly, even if they aren’t torn. The pain and swelling may diminish, but you could experience long-term problems with mobility and stability in your hand.
Other Soft Tissue Injuries
Your hands contain skin, muscles, nerves, and tendons, all of which can get hurt in a car accident. From mild inflammation to painful strains (damage to the tendons that attach muscles to bones) and even tingling, the injuries will likely make it harder to work, play, and even rest without pain and limitations.
Externally, the skin on your hands can be cut, burned, or bruised in a car crash. Long term effects may include tightness, sensitivity (an increase or a loss), and scarring.