Hand Pain Causes & Conditions
Hand pain can be quite debilitating, especially when accompanied by weakness, numbness or swelling of the fingers or joints. There are many different types of hand pain causes and conditions, since there are so many structures of the fingers, hand and wrist that must work in tandem. Injury, inflammation, disease and repetitive stress conditions can occur in the joints, tendons, bones or nerves of the hands, and any of these can cause pain.
Swollen, Irritated Nerves or Tendons
Pain, tingling or numbness in the hand and wrist may be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. The carpal tunnel is a small space in the wrist through which a bundle of connective tissues and tendons passes, along with the median nerve. When this nerve is pinched or inflamed due to swelling in the tendons or connective tissues, carpal tunnel syndrome can develop. This condition causes hand weakness and pain, making it difficult to grip a pen or button clothing. People who type frequently or perform other repetitive hand and finger motions are at a heightened risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.
A similar condition is De Quervain’s tendinitis, which results from swollen wrist tendons at the base of the thumb. Pain from this condition is typically centered in the thumb or the thumb side of the wrist and can develop either suddenly or slowly over time. The pain caused by this type of tendinitis can make it difficult to make a fist, turn the wrist or grip objects tightly. New mothers are at risk for de Quervain’s, due to awkward hand positions when holding a newborn baby. Wrist fractures and repetitive hand motions can also be risk factors for this condition.
Trigger finger, or stenosing tenosynovitis, causes a painful locking of the thumb or fingers in a bent position. Movements of the thumb and fingers are controlled by the flexor tendons; when these tendons become irritated, they can thicken and stiffen. Sometimes nodules form on the tendons as well. These conditions can inhibit the smooth movement of the flexor tendons, eventually resulting in trigger finger. The causes of trigger finger are unknown, but it is most common in adults who are between 40 and 60 years old. It is also more common in women than in men.
Arthritis is another leading cause of chronic hand pain. When cartilage in the joints of the hands and fingers deteriorates due to arthritic conditions, painful swelling and stiffness can occur. Commonly felt in the base of the thumb and the joints of the fingers, arthritic pain can cause marked weakness in the hands. Arthritis in the hands makes everyday tasks like opening a jar or tying shoelaces anything but simple.
Injuries to the Hands, Wrists or Fingers
Fractures and broken bones in the hands, wrists or fingers can result in acute pain, along with swelling, weakness and loss of movement. Whether a break is treated with a splint, cast, pins, wires or surgery, recovery can take time. Achy pain in the hand or fingers is common during the recovery period after an injury of this type, and will usually resolve over time.
When to Seek Professional Help
We may not realize just how much we use and rely on our hands until pain or weakness limits our ability to perform everyday tasks. When hand pain, weakness or numbness interferes with your daily life, it’s time to reach out to a medical professional for diagnosis and treatment. Balcones Pain Consultants can treat many different hand pain causes and conditions with attentive care and using the most up-to-date methods.