Hand Pain Treatment
What Causes Hand Pain?
Hand pain can be quite debilitating, especially when accompanied by weakness, numbness, or swelling of the fingers or joints. There are many different types of hand pain causes and conditions, since there are so many structures of the fingers, hand, and wrist that must work in tandem. Injury, inflammation, disease and repetitive stress conditions can occur in the joints, tendons, bones, or nerves of the hands, and any of these can cause pain.
Swollen, Irritated Nerves or Tendons
Pain, tingling or numbness in the hand and wrist may be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. The carpal tunnel is a small space in the wrist through which a bundle of connective tissues and tendons passes, along with the median nerve. When this nerve is pinched or inflamed due to swelling in the tendons or connective tissues, carpal tunnel syndrome can develop. This condition causes hand weakness and pain, making it difficult to grip a pen or button clothing. People who type frequently or perform other repetitive hand and finger motions are at a heightened risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.
A similar condition is De Quervain’s tendinitis, which results from swollen wrist tendons at the base of the thumb. Pain from this condition is typically centered in the thumb or the thumb side of the wrist and can develop either suddenly or slowly over time. The pain caused by this type of tendinitis can make it difficult to make a fist, turn the wrist or grip objects tightly. New mothers are at risk for De Quervain’s, due to awkward hand positions when holding a newborn baby. Wrist fractures and repetitive hand motions can also be risk factors for this condition.
Trigger finger, or stenosing tenosynovitis, causes a painful locking of the thumb or fingers in a bent position. Movements of the thumb and fingers are controlled by the flexor tendons; when these tendons become irritated, they can thicken and stiffen. Sometimes nodules form on the tendons as well. These conditions can inhibit the smooth movement of the flexor tendons, eventually resulting in trigger finger. The causes of trigger finger are unknown, but it is most common in adults who are between 40 and 60 years old. It is also more common in women than in men.
Arthritis is another leading cause of chronic hand pain. When cartilage in the joints of the hands and fingers deteriorates due to arthritic conditions, painful swelling and stiffness can occur. Commonly felt in the base of the thumb and the joints of the fingers, arthritic pain can cause marked weakness in the hands. Arthritis in the hands makes everyday tasks like opening a jar or tying shoelaces anything but simple.
Injuries to the Hands, Wrists, or Fingers
Fractures and sprains in the hands, wrists or fingers can result in acute pain, along with swelling, weakness and loss of movement. Whether a break is treated with a splint, cast, pins, wires, or surgery, recovery can take time. Achy pain in the hand or fingers is common during the recovery period after an injury of this type, and will usually resolve over time.
When to Seek Professional Help
We may not realize just how much we use and rely on our hands until pain or weakness limits our ability to perform everyday tasks. When hand pain, weakness, or numbness interferes with your daily life, it’s time to reach out to a medical professional for diagnosis and treatment. Balcones Pain Consultants can treat many different hand pain causes and conditions with attentive care and the most up-to-date methods.
How is Hand Pain Treated?
When hand pain, stiffness, and weakness interfere with our ability to perform everyday tasks, it’s time to reach out to the compassionate experts at Balcones Pain Consultants for proper treatment. Treatments for hand pain depend on the underlying cause or condition and might include splinting, oral or topical medications, joint or tendon injections, or surgery.
Treatment for Hand Pain Due to Irritated, Inflamed Tendons
Carpal tunnel syndrome and De Quervain’s tendinitis are two common forms of tendinitis that cause pain in the hand and wrist. Treatment for both these conditions might involve splinting of the hand or wrist along with medications like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or oral corticosteroids to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Steroid injections into the affected area might also be part of the treatment plan. Some people will need surgery to relieve pain if their condition is severe or long-lasting enough.
Treatment for Hand Pain Due to Inflammatory Conditions
Arthritis pain in the hands can be treated in a variety of ways that often work best when implemented in combination. Regardless of the particular type of arthritis—whether osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or another form of the condition—NSAIDs can help relieve pain and inflammation, as can the administration of steroid injections directly into the joints. Hand splints can also contribute to reducing hand and finger pain from arthritis. Stress management, avoiding foods that trigger inflammation and eating foods that help reduce inflammation can also play a significant role in managing arthritic hand pain.
Pain from trigger finger (a condition also known as stenosing tenosynovitis) can be treated with splinting, NSAIDs and steroid injections. Heat applications to the affected area can also help with treatment. The earlier the treatment of trigger finger, the better the outcome. For this reason, it’s important to have this condition diagnosed as soon as possible so you can begin the proper treatment promptly.
Hand Pain Due to Injuries to the Hands, Wrists, or Fingers
Hand pain that is caused by fractures or sprains in the hands, wrists, or fingers can be treated with immobilization in a cast or splint along with pain medication. Some people may require a nerve block to numb the nerves at the site of injury, thereby reducing or eliminating pain. Elevating the injured hand whenever possible can also help reduce pain. Sometimes, injuries to the hands, wrists, or fingers require treatment with antibiotics to avoid infection; these medications will also assist in avoiding pain that would stem from infection.
It is common to continue to feel pain in the hand or fingers following a break or other injury, even after the injury has healed. Treatment for this residual pain might involve pain medications along with modified activity, physical therapy, massage or special exercises to prevent stiffness in the hand, wrist, or fingers. Lingering pain following the recovery period after a hand injury should resolve on its own over time if specific physical therapy and other instructions are carefully followed.
Your care provider at Balcones Pain Consultants will provide you with a hand pain treatment plan that is tailored to your individual condition and symptoms. When appropriate, your plan will include detailed instructions for ongoing pain management at home.
Advanced Treatments for Hand Pain Management
Severe or chronic pain which does not respond to other treatments, or which significantly impacts your life or activity level, may be treated with more advanced methods. It’s important to let your healthcare provider at Balcones Pain Consultants know about all your symptoms, so that we can help you to return to living life as smoothly and quickly as possible. We will be happy to answer any questions you have about the many treatment options available, including: