They can be damaged in a fall or accident, by an impact injury or a cut and often occur with a bone fracture.
Swelling and pain at the point of injury are the main symptoms combined with a reduced function such as a weaker grip.
A hand specialist can determine the change in function easily but an x-ray, ultrasound and MRI scan help provide a complete picture of the damage.
Splinting and anti-inflammatory medication are the first options but more severe injuries may require surgery, particularly if there has been a bone fracture. Torn ligaments can be repaired and re-anchored to the bone and damaged tissue cleaned up.
Surgery may require the patient to wear a cast or splint post-operation but normal function returns after several weeks.