Hand Pain: Causes and Cures

Maintaining the optimum health and function of your hands is important when it comes to the ease with which you can perform simple everyday tasks. However, because we use our hands so often - and also for other reasons - pain in either hand can quickly develop.

There are several different physical conditions that can result in hand pain. Also, anyone can experience an injury that then compromises how well the hands can be used. Sprains and fractures in this area are common reasons for ongoing hand pain.

Each of your hands is made up of 27 different bones. There are also 120 ligaments, 29 joints, 17 muscles and 48 nerves in each hand. The function of each hand is also affected by muscles and tendons found in the forearms. With so many different things contributing to the overall range of motion for your hands, it is easy to see how there is a great deal of opportunity for one or more parts to become damaged.

Fractures

Fracturing your hand, or fracturing one or more of your fingers, is easily done if you fall over. If you have experienced a fracture then you will likely have pain and swelling in the injured area. You may also be able to notice that the bones are out of place, depending on how serious the fracture is.

Treatment for this kind of fracture will generally require the area to be kept immobile with the use of a splint whilst the body repairs itself. If the hand was cut open in any way when the fracture took place, then antibiotics may be prescribed to combat any potential infection. 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This is a condition that we have previously explored in depth, and you can click here to read more about it. On a very basic level, this condition develops when the median nerve becomes compressed, leading to pain, tingling and numbness in the hand. This is  often caused by repetitive movements, but can also be experienced as a symptom of another condition, or even simply because of pregnancy. 

Surgery is a common treatment route for carpal tunnel syndrome, but does not guarantee that the condition will not reoccur. Resting your hands between repetitive or strenuous activities can help.

Trigger Finger

Trigger finger is a condition that is characterised by inflammation in the fingers or thumb. It causes pain in the affected area and can cause the fingers to lock when they are bent. Repetitive or forceful movements can contribute to the development of this condition, and it will most commonly strike those between the ages of 40 and 60.

Rest and anti-inflammatory medications will be the first step to treating this condition, followed by surgery or steroid injections if no relief is found.

Arthritis

Arthritis is a condition that can impact every part of the body, and unfortunately the hands are no exception. If you have osteoarthritis then the cartilage that usually covers the bones will begin to erode. This will eventually cause the bones to come into contact with each other, which can be quite painful. This type of arthritis is usually treated with pain medication, as well as by making certain lifestyle changes. You can try exercising your hands with simple stretching exercises, and also by wearing wrist supports.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects the body in a different way to osteoarthritis and causes painful inflammation of the joints. The main goal with treating rheumatoid arthritis in the hands is to alleviate the inflammation as much as possible. Anti-inflammatory medications will be the first prescribed course of treatment, with surgery also being a possibility further down the line.

Ligament Injuries

The connective tissues between your bones where your joints are formed are known as ligaments. These ligaments help to maintain strength, as well as helping to ensure your hands retain their usual range of motion. The ligaments in the hand are at risk of partial or complete tears, which are frequently referred to as ligament sprains. When this happens, both pain and swelling will be evident.

Most ligament injuries can be treated with an ample amount of rest and some pain relief medication. However, if the sprain is quite serious then surgical intervention may be required.

Healthy Hands

Working to maintain the health of your hands through certain preventative measures is a good idea to help avoid any of the aforementioned issues. The ease at which you can do this will largely depend on your work and lifestyle. For example, if you work on a computer then it is likely that the extent to which you are required to use your hands in a repetitive way will eventually cause a problem. This is also of course true of other professions that call for the hands to be used a lot. 

Ensuring that you get an adequate amount of rest, as well as regularly stretching your hands throughout the day, will help to protect the health of your hands. You can also engage in certain wrist strengthening exercises, which can be done with or without aids, such as dumbbells. 

Resources

1) http://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis

2) http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis

3) http://handtoelbow.com/ligament-injuries/