Common hand pain causes and how to find relief

Hands are a complex structure that helps a person performs everyday activities. They are made up of 27 bones, 29 joints, 48 nerves, 17 muscles, and more than 120 ligaments. This complex system help provide a wide range of motion and functionality. Pain in the hand can emanate from joints, muscles, tendons, bones, blood vessels or connective tissues.

Common causes of hand pain

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel is a narrow opening through the carpal bones that provide pathway both for the tendons and the median nerve. In carpal tunnel syndrome, this opening narrows down compressing the median nerve causing numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand. Pain is often felt around the thumb, index and middle finger. It is worse at the night than during the day Treatment

  • • Analgesic and anti-inflammatory medication
  • • Splinting therapy
  • • Cortisone injection therapy and oral steroids
  • • Surgery

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis

Is a painful condition that affects the tendons present around the thumb region. Swelling around the base of the thumb causes inflammation in the thumb area. This inflammation compresses the nearby nerves causing pain and numbness around the base of your thumb. Pain is most felt around the thumb side of the wrist

Common treatments for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis include:

  • • Splinting
  • • Application of ice or cold packs
  • • OTC pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin
  • • Physical therapy or occupational therapy
  • • Surgical therapy

Ganglion cysts

Ganglion cysts of the wrist and hands are not usually painful but can have an unsightly appearance. These cysts filled with fluid can appear quickly, disappear, or change their size. In cases of large ganglion cyst impending pressure on the nearby nerves, the patient experiences pain, tingling, or numbness around the wrist or hand. Ganglion cysts often do not require any treatment. Rest and splinting reduce the size of the cyst and it gradually disappears over a period of time. In case of pain, excision of the ganglion cyst is needed.

Fracture of the hand and fingers

Fracture of the hand or fingers causes immense pain apart from stiffness, swelling, and loss of movement. These fractures can be simple, complex, comminuted, or compound fractures. The treatment varies depending on the type of fracture Treatment

  • • Splinting therapy
  • • Surgery


Is the leading cause of pain occurring in the hands. It can occur anywhere in the body but is particularly common in the hands and wrist. Rheumatoid or osteoarthritis is the two most common forms affecting the hands. In the hand, pain is most felt at the base of the thumb, middle joint of one or more fingers, or the end joint which is closest to the tip of the finger

Treatment depends on the severity of pain and disability

  • • Anti-inflammatory agents to treat symptoms of pain and swelling
  • • Cortisone injection therapy
  • • Splinting therapy for joints
  • • Surgery
  • • Occupational therapy/physical therapy modalities


Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that occurs when the peripheral nerves of the hands are damaged. Medical conditions such as diabetes, traumatic injuries, infections, and metabolic problems can cause nerve damage to the hands resulting in pain and tingling. Other causes of neuropathy include Vitamin B12 deficiency and an excessive amount of alcohol consumption. The type and location of your neuropathic pain will depend on which nerves are affected.

Common treatments for peripheral neuropathy include:

  • • Anti-seizure medications
  • • Topical treatments
  • • Antidepressants

Injury to Bones, Muscles or Tendons

Sprains, strains, and fractures are some of the more common causes of hand pain. In case of fractures or a sprain, compression may be required in the form of bandage or brace, along with ice therapy and physical therapy to help decrease pain and recuperate mobility. In instances of severe damage to the ligaments, repair of the ligaments is needed.

Cervical radiculopathy

When the nerve in the neck is compressed it causes a condition called cervical radiculopathy. The pain of cervical radiculopathy radiates down through the shoulder, arm, wrist, hand, and fingers

Treatment therapy:

  • • Rest or activity modification
  • • Physical therapy
  • • Ice and/or heat therapy
  • • Management of pain with medication or injections
  • • Manual manipulation
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