In continuation of our series about our bone structure, we will now discuss our hands. Probably of all the bones in our bodies, the hands have the most flexible bone assembly and for good reason. Let’s take a look at how these bones and ligaments work to allow us this extreme flexibility of movement.
OK, so what are the bones in our hands?
There are 14 bones in each finger (and toes too!). Of these, they are broken down into three bone groups: Phalanges, Metacarpal and Carpal.
These are the actual fingers of your bones. They extend from the very tip of your nails down to the part when you can bend your fingers. The phalanges are then broken down into three additional categories: the distal, middle and proximal, with the exception of the thumb which has only two areas.
- The distal phalanges are your fingertips. Ever hear the expression “sensitive to the touch”?, Well, it is these bones that are responsible for that! They have nerve endings that are designed to interpret the feelings of touch on your fingers into nerve impulses that are channeled to the brain.
- The middle phalanx is just that, the middle bone section of the phalange It is connected to the distal phalanx at the top and the proximal phalanx at the bottom.
- The proximal phalanx is the largest of the three bones in the finger, joined by the metacarpal and the middle phalanx as shown in the diagram.
There is one of these bones with each finger, labeled Metacarpal I – Thumb, Metacarpal II – Index finger, Metacarpal III – Middle finger. Metacarpal IV – Ring finger and Metacarpal V – Little finger.
The bones are located in the wrist area. There are eight of them and are relatively small compared to the other bones in the hands. The carpal are the bones that connect the hand bones to the forearm.
Heard of carpal tunnel? This happens when the nerves, namely the median nerve receives too much pressure, resulting in certain pain and if not resolved, can lead to nerve damage.
The median nerve is one of a group of nerves that originate in the neck. They combine to form a single nerve through the arm. The nerve then continues down the arm to the wrist and then into the hand.
- Tingling and numbness in your fingers or hand. Usually the thumb and index, middle or ring fingers are affected, but not your little finger.
- Weakness is another symptom.
Carpal tunnel syndrome does not require hospitalization, rather standard home procedures should cure it. Some of treatments you can try are:
- Take breaks from repetitive tasks, such as typing, which is the most popular method of acquiring the pain.
- Stretch your hands and wrists whenever possible.
- Try over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
Other Hand Issues
Arthritis, a common disorder that affects about 54 million people, almost all adults are diagnosed with arthritis. It refers to an inflammation of one or more of the joints. There are two types of arthritis that affect the joints of the hand and wrist. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis. AKA wear-and-tear arthritis mainly affects seniors and is caused by the cartilage in joints that wear away over time.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the result of the lining of the joints to swell.
Both can be painful, but over the counter medications can be the treatment for most people. If meds do not work, your doctor can decide the next step up to surgery, but usually meds will do the trick.
Our hands have evolved over millions of years to be the useful tools they are today. We share these gifts of nature with thousands of other species on the planet, but only now are we moving into a new generation where human hands will not be human, but android. Let’s hope they will be put into as good use as they are with we humanoids.