No matter how old you are or what you do for a living, you are always using your hands. They perform countless tasks, from brushing your teeth to keying emails. Aching hands can make even the simplest of tasks a painful ordeal.
Beneath the skin, your hands are an intricate architecture of tendons, joints, ligaments, nerves, and bones. Each of these structures is vulnerable to damage from illness or injury. Hand pain has many causes, including injury and disease. Fortunately, many of those causes can be treated and the symptoms eased.
According to WebMD the most common conditions are arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and De Quervain’s tendinitis. Since millions of Americans experience some type of hand pain, let’s examine the most common types and ways to treat them.
Arthritis, which affects one in five American adults, and other persistent joint problems are by far the most common cause of hand pain and disability. Symptoms of arthritis include pain and stiffness usually caused by degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis). The more than 100 types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
A diagnosis is necessary in order to develop a treatment plan. There is no single treatment that applies to all people with arthritis, but rather the doctor will develop a management plan designed to minimize your specific pain and improve the function of your joints.
Short-term relief can include:
– heat and cold
– joint protection
– transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common nerve disorders. It affects about 4 million to 10 million Americans. Carpal tunnel syndrome causes pain in the palm and some fingers of the hand, wrist and forearm. Often the pain is worse at night than during the day. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause weakness, tingling and numbness.
Common treatments include:
– resting the hand and wrist
– anti-inflammatory or analgesic painkillers
– wrist splints
– steroid injection
– physical therapy
Surgery may be suggested if symptoms persist for six months or more.
De Quervain’s tendinitis, also known as de Quervain’s tendinosis, causes pain on the thumb side of the wrist.
The pain may develop gradually or suddenly. It can travel the length of the thumb and up the forearm. If you have de Quervain’s tendinitis, movements that can be painful include:
– making a fist
– grasping or holding objects
– turning the wrist
The pain results from swelling of the wrist tendons at the base of the thumb, which is caused by irritation or inflammation. Repetitive activities and overuse are often responsible for the onset of de Quervain’s.
New mothers are at high risk because of the awkward position in which they hold their baby and their fluctuating hormones. Wrist fractures can also increase your risk of de Quervain’s. Pain relief treatments include:
– wearing a splint to rest the thumb and wrist
– anti-inflammatory medications
– cortisone injections
Surgery is an option if symptoms remain severe after other treatments have been tried.
If you experience hand pain, here are some exercises that may help improve your hand mobility and reduce pain.
Understanding the different types of hand pain and treatments can help anyone who may occasionally experience pain or lives with it on a regular basis. If you live with hand pain, let us know what has helped you.