Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Ligament Injuries

A hand ligament injury refers to the overstretching or tearing of one or more ligaments in the hand. Ligaments are tough, fibrous tissues that connect bones to other bones, providing stability and support to the joints.

Wrist Ligament Injuries

  • Scapholunate Ligament Tear: This is one of the most common wrist ligament injuries. The scapholunate ligament connects the scaphoid and lunate bones. It can tear from a fall onto an outstretched hand, such as in sports like skiing or football. Untreated, it can lead to wrist arthritis. Treatment may involve immobilization, surgery to repair or reconstruct the ligament, or in some cases fusion of the bones.
  • Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC) Tear: The TFCC connects the radius and ulna bones, allowing proper wrist rotation. It is a combination of ligaments that surround a meniscus type disc at the end of the ulna bone. It is similar to the meniscus in the knee. Tears can occur from repetitive wrist motions or acute trauma. Partial tears may be treated conservatively, while complete tears often require surgery.
  • Lunotriquetral Ligament Tear: This ligament connects the lunate and triquetrum bones on the ulnar side of the wrist. Tears cause wrist instability and can require surgical repair or reconstruction.

Hand Ligament Injuries

  • Collateral Ligament Rupture: The collateral ligaments stabilize the finger joints. Ruptures can occur from jamming a finger and may require surgery to repair the ligament.
  • Digital Ligament Tear: Ligaments connecting the finger bones can tear, often from jamming the finger in a door or object. Partial tears may heal with splinting, while complete tears may need surgical repair.
  • Skier’s Thumb/Gamekeeper’s Thumb: This is a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament at the base of the thumb, often from falling and levering the thumb away from the hand. Partial tears can be treated with immobilization, while complete tears frequently require surgical repair. An experienced orthopedic surgeon will need to assess if it is partial or complete. This is a very important ligament to hold objects with the thumb.

Common Symptoms

The common symptoms of a hand ligament injury include:

  • Pain in the affected area
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Limited movement or stiffness in the joint

Cause & Anatomy

Hand ligament injuries typically occur due to:

  • Direct trauma or impact to the hand
  • Sudden forceful bending or twisting of the fingers or wrist
  • Overuse or repetitive stress on the hand

The key anatomical structures involved in hand ligament injuries are:

  • Ligaments connecting the small bones in the fingers (phalanges)
  • Ligaments connecting the bones in the wrist (e.g., scapholunate ligament)


Diagnosis involves:

  • Physical examination to assess pain, swelling, and joint stability
  • X-rays to rule out fractures
  • Additional tests like MRI or CT scans may be ordered for severe injuries


Preventive measures include:

  • Proper warm-up before activities
  • Using protective gear in sports
  • Avoiding overuse or repetitive stress on the hands
  • Maintaining good overall fitness and flexibility


Treatment depends on the severity of the injury and may involve:

  • Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE)
  • Immobilization with a splint or cast
  • Physical therapy for range of motion and strengthening exercises
  • It is important to see your doctor to determine if it is partial, complete, and can be immobilized or start motion. These can mimic other injuries and delayed treatment is not good for you.


Surgery may be recommended for complete ligament tears or severe instability. It involves repairing or reconstructing the torn ligament(s).


Rehabilitation after surgery typically involves:

  • Immobilization with a splint or cast for several weeks. Some repairs allow for early motion.
  • Gradual range of motion and strengthening exercises
  • Physical or occupational therapy to restore function


How long does it take to recover from a hand ligament injury?
Recovery time varies depending on the severity, but mild injuries may heal within 3-6 weeks, while severe injuries can take 6-8 weeks or longer with therapy. Swelling typically lasts for 9 – 12 months.

Can a hand ligament injury heal without surgery?
Partial ligament tears or sprains may heal with conservative treatment like splinting and therapy. Complete tears often require surgical repair.

What are the long-term effects of an untreated hand ligament injury?
Untreated or improperly treated ligament injuries can lead to chronic pain, instability, and arthritis in the affected joint.

Is this a jammed finger?
Some jammed fingers get better but many are more severe injuries with long term consequences. They can be similar in how they appear. A correct diagnosis, the right splint, and the right timing for mobility are crucial for success. See your orthopedic surgeon to make certain it does well.

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