You’ve been told a million times to not let pain be a deciding factor on what you should be doing. The voice inside your head might be your mom telling you to “tough it out” after you fell off your bike or your football coach screaming “no pain, no gain” during a workout.
No matter what, many of us have conditioned to ignore pain for as long as possible. However, that’s not always the best option and could make things more complicated.
“Often times, ignoring pain for a long period of time can actually make things worse,” said Dr. Andrew Vicar, OrthoIndy hand, wrist and elbow specialist. “If pain is serious, treatment from a medical professional is the best option to avoid further injury or prolonged treatment.”
Symptoms you shouldn’t ignore in the fingers, hand or wrist
- Tingling, numbness or weakness
- Stiffness, swelling and loss of movement
- Pain that lasts more than 48 hours
- Pain that is inconsistent or dull over a long period of time
- Trouble grasping objects or frequently dropping objects
What happens if a fracture is left untreated?
While it is possible for a broken bone to heal on its own with splinting or bracing without the help of a medical professional, it could also lead to more problems or the need for surgery, which could’ve been avoided with treatment from a hand, wrist and elbow specialist.
“For example, people often hear that there is nothing you can do for a broken finger, so you might as well just tape it or splint it at home,” said Dr. Vicar. “However, improper splinting for a broken finger can actually cause more pain, arthritis and even the need for surgery.”
Why ignoring hand, wrist or elbow pain could make things worse
Furthermore, according to Dr. Vicar, it’s not just broken bones that require attention from a medical professional. Pain in your hand, wrist or elbow could also be a warning sign of something more serious.
With the increased use of cellphones and repetitive motion of typing on a keyboard, people are putting more pressure on their hands and wrists, which can cause pain or lack of motion.
Additionally, people that work with their hands such as construction workers or landscapers might feel their fingers lock up or the wrists become sore from repetitive motion.
“It’s important to talk to a hand, wrist and elbow specialist about your symptoms, especially if they have progressed,” said Dr. Vicar. “You might only need a brace or to change your work station set up; however, it could be more serious like carpal tunnel or arthritis where treatment is necessary to reduce pain.”
According to Dr. Vicar, the sooner you speak to a medical specialist about your hand, wrist or elbow pain, the less likely you are to need aggressive treatment such as surgery.
“Most times hand, wrist or elbow pain can be treated with conservative methods such as physical therapy, injections or bracing,” said Dr. Vicar. “However, there are times when conditions have advanced, or pain is too extreme, and surgery may be necessary.”
Learn more about hand, wrist and elbow treatment at OrthoIndy.
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