Hand & Wrist Examination

Hand and wrist complaints are common presentations to A&E, general practice as well as orthopaedic and rheumatoid clinics.  Some hospitals even have special “hand” clinics.  Common acute problems include fractures, tendonitis and trigger finger.  Common chronic problems include carpal tunnel syndrome, ganglions and arthritis.  There are three main conditions commonly examined on in this station – osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis this is due to the availability of patients with these conditions as well as the changes specific to each e.g swan neck deformity, Bouchard’s nodes and Heberden’s nodes.  You should therefore be familiar with the changes that each of these conditions can cause.

The hand and wrist examination, along with all other joint examinations, is commonly tested on in OSCEs.  You should ensure you are able to perform this confidently.

The examination of all joints follows the general pattern of “look, feel, move” as well as an assessment of function and occasionally special tests.

Subject steps

  1. On completion, thank the patient for their time and wash your hands. Report your findings to the examiner.