Usually, when some part of our body hurts, we’ll try to “baby” it by using it less and resting it more. But there are few parts of the body that get more daily use than the hands. That’s why hand pain, regardless of its cause, can be so debilitating. The first step in finding real relief is discovering what is causing your pain.
Common Causes of Hand Pain
Pain in the hand can emanate from joints, muscles, tendons, bones, blood vessels or connective tissues. Some of the more common culprits include:
- Arthritis – Rheumatoid or osteoarthritis are the two most common forms affecting the hands.
- Repetitive Motion Injuries – In this age of technology, hand pain from repetitive motions is becoming more and more common. Between texting and keyboarding, conditions like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and “Blackberry Thumb” are on the rise.
- Nerve Damage (Neuropathy) – Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, can cause nerve damage to the hands resulting in pain and tingling. Other causes of neuropathy include a Vitamin B12 deficiency and excessive alcohol consumption.
- Injury to Bones, Muscles or Tendons – Sprains, strains and fractures are some of the more common causes of hand pain.
- Neck Problems – As strange as it may seem, when a nerve in the neck is compressed it can cause a condition called cervical radiculopathy, where pain can radiate down through the shoulder, arm, wrist, hand and fingers through the radicular nerve. Different nerve roots cause pain in different parts of the hand. The nerve roots usually involved in arm or hand pain are the C6, C7 and C8. If the C6 root is affected, pain would be felt on the thumb side of the hand, as well as into the thumb itself. Compression in the C7 root would affect the middle of the hand as well as the index and middle fingers. And compression in the C8 root would cause pain on the “pinky finger” side of the hand, as well as in the ring and pinky fingers.
Dealing with Hand Pain
Since there are many different causes of hand pain, the first step is seeing a doctor to determine the cause of your pain. Arriving at a diagnosis will often require a physical examination and tests or scans, such as X-rays, a CT scan or a MRI.
These will obviously depend on the condition which is causing your pain. For example, a fracture or a sprain may require compression in the form of an Ace bandage or brace, along with ice therapy and physical therapy to help you lessen pain and regain mobility. In other instances, surgery might be a treatment option, and sometimes treatment will consist of pain medication and rest.
In most cases, however, physical therapy is a consistently helpful treatment. For example, a physical therapist can help you regain mobility while a broken bone heals. Or if arthritis is limiting your ability to use your hand effectively, a physical therapist can help get you moving through strengthening and stretching exercises, massage and teaching you to manage flare-ups, all with the goal of restoring useful movement in the affected joints.
A physical therapist will work along with your doctor to help with the healing process and to minimize pain, recommending supplemental treatments such as ice and/or heat therapy, ultrasound and electrical stimulation, as well as answering your questions along the way.
Hampton Roads Orthopedics and Sports Medicine has a team of award-winning doctors and physical therapists ready to diagnose and treat any and all hand problems. We’ve spent 60 years in Hampton Roads evolving and expanding our orthopaedic expertise! Don’t suffer with new or chronic pain! Contact us today at (757)873-1554 to get on the path to relief from your hand pain.