Understanding Hand Pain And How To Treat It

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hand pain

Don’t let hand pain get in the way of your favorite activities. See your doctor for treatment and pain management options.

Pain in the hands can be debilitating, so much so that it makes the activities of daily living uncomfortable or downright unbearable. The discomfort may be the result of an accident and come on quickly. Or it may be the symptom of a chronic condition, like arthritis, that gradually makes its presence known and worsens over time.

Here are 5 causes of hand pain and recommended treatments from WebMD:

De Quervain’s Tendinitis

This causes pain on the thumb side of the wrist. The pain may develop gradually or start suddenly. It can travel the length of the thumb and up the forearm. It can be painful to make a fist, grasp or hold objects, or turn your wrist

The pain results from irritation or inflammation of the wrist tendons at the base of the thumb. Repetitive activities and overuse are often responsible for de Quervain’s.

Pain relief treatments include:

Surgery may be an option if symptoms remain severe after you have tried other treatments.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This is one of the most common nerve disorders of the hand. It causes pain in the:

  • Palm and some fingers of the hand
  • Wrist
  • Forearm

Often the pain is worse at night than during the day. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause:

You may especially feel it in your thumb, index finger, and middle finger. This can make it hard to grip objects.

The carpal tunnel is a structure made up of bones and connective tissues that is located at the base of the hand. It is in this narrow space that the median nerve is pinched by inflamed or irritated tendons or other swelling.

Common treatments include:

Your doctor may suggest surgery if your symptoms last for 6 months or more.


A fracture, or a break in a bone, can cause a great deal of hand pain. Besides pain, after a fracture you may have:

  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Loss of movement

Fracture treatment depends on the type of the break. Casts or splints are often used for simple breaks. You may need pins, wires, or plates to treat more complicated fractures. Surgery might also be needed to set the broken bone completely.


This is a leading source of hand pain. It causes joints to lose the cartilage that allows them to move smoothly against each other. As the cartilage deteriorates, painful, sometimes debilitating, swelling begins to occur.

In the hand, the areas where this most often occurs are the:

  • Base of the thumb
  • Middle joint of one or more fingers
  • End joint, which is closest to the finger tip

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It causes progressive degeneration of cartilage. It can happen with aging or following an injury, such as a fracture or dislocation. When it affects the hand, it causes:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness

Bony nodules may also form at the middle or end joints of the fingers. Osteoarthritis can also cause deep, aching pain at the base of the thumb. The hand may also become weaker, making everyday activities difficult.

Treatment depends on the severity of the pain and disability. Treatment includes:

If these treatments do not provide relief, surgery may be recommended.

Trigger Finger

Doctors call this stenosing tenosynovitis. It causes fingers or the thumb to lock in a bent position. It can be painful, especially when you bend or straighten the affected finger or thumb.

Doctors don’t know what causes trigger finger. You’re more likely to get it if you have:

Rest, sometimes while wearing a splint, may fix the problem. Over-the-counter pain medications can ease the pain. Corticosteroid injections (steroid shots) often can help relieve symptoms. Your doctor may recommend surgery if other treatments fail.