4 Reasons Your Hand May Be Hurting And What To Do About It

Posted on: 11 August 2017

Hand problems are common as you get older. But no matter your age, dealing with pain, stiffness, and tingling are never fun. It's important to see your doctor if you've been experiencing pain in the hand, but here are some of the possible causes and what your doctor will likely do for treatment.


This condition occurs when cartilage in the joints wears down. It tends to hit those parts that bear a lot of weight, like the knees and hips, but it can occur anywhere. When the fingers are afflicted, it tends to affect the joint closest to the fingernail. However, in the thumb, patients report pain near the bottom of the hand. Tell-tale signs include pain and stiffness that go away once you've had a chance to rest the hand.

The pain itself is caused by the lack of cartilage. Movement can be likened to gears grinding together without oil, and the joints become inflamed without that layer of protection. That's why it's important to avoid doing hand exercises if you have arthritis.

In order to diagnose this condition, your doctor will perform an x-ray. Treatments will vary depending on the severity of your symptoms. But with arthritis, most will recommend one of some of the following:

  • Splints
  • Steroid injections
  • Hot/cold compresses
  • Possible surgery

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

With carpal tunnel syndrome, the median nerve that passes through the middle of the wrist becomes compressed, causing pain, tingling, and numbness in the wrist and fingers.

It's typically causes by long-term pressure to the wrist, which is why it's so common among those who spend a lot of time at the computer. But it can also result from the overuse of hand tools or repeatedly overextending the wrist when playing the piano, painting, drawing, etc. Females between the ages of 30 and 50 or those with certain underlying health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are at a greater risk of developing carpal tunnel.

Diagnosis consists of a physical exam with a possible nerve conduction test. This measures how well electrical impulses travel through the nerve, giving the doctor an idea of how much damage has been done.

The latest recommendation is to try to treat carpal tunnel without surgery. Your doctor will likely recommend that you avoid activities that can exacerbate the condition (like typing, playing the piano, etc.). They will also discuss the option of splints, medication, and steroid therapy.

In some situations, the condition is severe enough that surgery is warranted to reduce pressure on the median nerve. Most patients respond well to the surgery.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel is similar to carpal tunnel, but it affects the ulnar nerve inside the elbow and the pinky and ring fingers. Numbness is often the first symptom, followed by pain. Cubital tunnel is often seen in patients who repeatedly bend the elbow, so if your job entails operating heavy machinery, pulling levers, painting, talking on the phone, or repeatedly reaching and lifting, you are susceptible to developing this condition.

Diagnosis and treatment is essentially the same as with carpal tunnel, with surgery being an option for severe cases. It's important to minimize the activity that initially caused the condition by taking frequent breaks. Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy.

Trigger Finger

The tendons in your hand are surrounded by a protective sheath. If this sheath becomes irritated and narrows, it can limit the mobility of your thumb, middle, or ring finger. In severe cases, patients can experience pain and swelling and may even notice a bump. You may also experience popping, clicking, tenderness, and a feeling that your fingers are stuck when held in the same position for an extended period of time.

Considered somewhat of a "mystery" condition, trigger finger doesn't have a single, known cause just yet. But most professionals believe that certain hobbies and activities are the main culprit. If you're a farmer, musician, tennis or racquetball player, or have a job that requires you to constantly maintain a grip on items, you're at risk. Treatments can include the following:

  • massages
  • splints
  • stretching
  • exercises
  • hot/cold therapy
  • steroid injections

Once again, surgery might be indicated in severe cases. But most physicians prefer to start with the least invasive treatment. For more information, contact establishments like Town Center Orthopaedic Associates, P.C.