What is Really Causing your Hand Pain?

Moderate hand pain is experienced fairly commonly but it may not always be something as harmless as tired muscles. Whether you should seek medical attention because of a hand pain depends on its severity and if it is preventing you from carrying out normal action or not. Hand pain is simply a symptom and it may be caused by some underlying cause.

Causes of Hand Pain

There is a wide range of causes of hand pain, depending on its nature, intensity and concentration and coexistence with other symptoms.

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Trauma and Strain

  • Injury
  • Fatigue
  • Repetitive movement
  • Surgery

Joint Pain

  • Osteoarthritis: Degradation of joints
  • Septic Arthritis: Joint degradation due to bacterial infection.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Chronic joint stiffness, pain, swelling and fatigue

Nervous System Disease

  • Peripheral Neuropathy: Numbness and tingling
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Pain and numbness in the median nerve at the wrist
  • Cervical Spondylosis: Degenerative Osteoarthritis of the joints.

Bacterial and Other Infection

  • Cellulitis: An inflammation under the skin caused by bacterial infection
  • Felon or Whitlow: A discoloration of the finger
  • Cysts: A closed sac caused by bacterial infection
  • Paronychia: A bacterial and fungal infection bordering the nails and the skin
  • Septic Arthritis: Joint degradation due to bacterial infection.

Various Diseases

  • Dupuytren’s Contracture: A localized scar tissue in the palm
  • Raynaud’s Phenomenon: Discoloration of toes and fingers due to cold or infection
  • Myocardial Infarction or Heart Attack
  • Tumors

Symptoms to Watch Out For

There are several other symptoms that can accompany hand pain and the presence of which should immediately prompt you to seek medical help.

  • Burn
  • Swelling
  • Bruises and wounds
  • Discoloration
  • Infected wounds
  • Difficulty in clinching the fist
  • Difficulty in movement
  • Weak grip
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Lumps
  • Deformity
  • Stiffness of the joints
  • Fever and flu
  • Muscle wasting

Hand Pain Diagnosis

The physician will diagnose the cause of hand pain through a physical examination. The apparent condition of the area, along with the physical symptoms, will narrow down the cause to a great deal. However, the physician may recommend further testing for the diagnosis. The detail of diagnostic tests could depend on the complexity of the symptoms.

Radiology and Medical Imaging Tests

There are a number of imaging tests that can clearly give a physician the idea about the condition of the bones of the hand and to confirm any signs of injuries and abnormalities.

  • X-ray
  • Bone Scan
  • MRI Scan

Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is a minor surgical procedure performed for the examination and treatment of tissues. It is minimally invasive in nature, meaning no skin break is involved and the body cavity is not reached. The procedure is particularly suitable for the joints.

Arthrocentesis

Arthrocentesis is a medical test which involves the collection of the synovial fluid from a joint capsule by means of a syringe.

Nerve Condition Test

Blood Tests

The diagnosis could also require one of the following blood tests.

  • Complete Blood Count
  • Rheumatoid Factor
  • Serum Uric Acid Level

Hand Pain Treatment

Once the correct diagnosis is made of the underlying cause creating hand pain,

Trauma and Strain

If bones are found fractured, dislocated or broken, then a hand splint is immediately fixed in order to prevent movement resulting in severe pain. Once the bone is fixed in the correct position, the hand may be plastered or set in a brace for better healing. Surgery could be required in more complicated cases.

Bacterial and Other Infection

If the hand pain is caused by a bacterial infection or a bite wound, then antibiotics are administered to relieve the symptom and to treat the condition. Pain killers and anti-inflammatory medicines could also be prescribed. Cysts may be required to be removed surgically.

Joint Pain and Arthritis

The treatment for joint pain varies with the condition. For serious conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, pain killers, anti-inflammatory medicine and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic medicine are administered. There is no known cure for the condition. Osteoarthritis involves lifestyle modification, avoiding activity that puts a lot of stress on joints and exercise are recommended. Apart from that, pain killers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, hyaluronic acid injections and dietary supplements are recommended.

Nervous System Diseases

Peripheral Neuropathy is treated by overcoming vitamin deficiencies, controlling diabetes, physical therapy, surgery and sympathetic injections. Medication such as painkillers, acetaminophen and antidepressants are also administered.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is treated with physical therapy, wearing wrist braces, activity modification, massage, exercise, anti-inflammatory medicines and cortisone injections.

Raynaud’s phenomenon

The treatment of Raynaud’s phenomenon, which is usually caused by cold and infection, is carried out by keeping the hands warm, medication such as beta blockers, drugs that dilate blood vessels, blood thinners and close monitoring of the condition. Surgery may sometimes by require for the treatment.

Dupuytren’s Contracture

Treatment includes exercise with heat application, ultrasound and cortisone and collagenase injections. Surgery could be required for the removal of the scar tissue.

Tumors

Treatment methods such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery are used.

Heart Attack or Myocardial Infraction

A heart attack is a medical emergency and should be immediately treated with first aid. The treatment of the condition should be immediately carried out in a medical setting such as a hospital or a clinic, which involves administering oxygen, medication such as nitroglycerin and morphine. Afterwards, lifestyle modification and even surgery are recommended.

You should be able to tell a great deal about the nature of your pain yourself which can significantly guide the physician. In case of severe pain, seek medical assistance immediately.