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Common Hand Pain Causes & How To Find Relief

Acute pain in a women wrist

Your hands are complex structures that you rely heavily upon to perform everyday tasks. For both of these reasons, it may come as no surprise that there are a variety of ways that hand pain can occur. Hand pain can result from a number of different physical conditions, as well as injuries involving the hand, such as sprains or fractures. Winter is one of the worst seasons for hand injuries. Snow, ice and other slick conditions regularly lead to slips and falls, and falling on an outstretched hand is a particularly common cause of hand injuries.


In this blog, the fellowship-trained orthopedic physicians at NY Orthopedics’ Hand, Wrist, Elbow & Shoulder Center will explain some of the most common hand pain causes and how you can find relief.


Why is hand pain a common problem?

Your hands are made up of many different moving parts. There are 27 bones, more than 120 ligaments, 29 joints, 48 nerves, and 17 muscles in each hand. That doesn’t count the muscles of the forearm, which control the fingers, and the tendons attached to them. This complex system provides the wide range of motion and functionality that your hands are capable of. However, the great number of moving parts means that there are also many opportunities for injury and dysfunction.


Since you rely on your hands on a daily basis, this makes getting to the underlying source of your hand pain and receiving proper treatment very important for maintaining your everyday routine.


What are the most common hand pain causes?

From the tips of your fingers to the base of your palms, to your wrists and up into your arms, there are many places that something can go wrong and cause pain. Some of the common hand pain causes include the following.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The carpal tunnel is a narrow opening through the carpal bones—the bones which make up your wrist and the base of your hand. It provides a pathway both for the tendons that control your fingers and for the median nerve, which provides feeling and function to your thumb, index and middle fingers. In carpal tunnel syndrome, the opening becomes narrowed and the median nerve is compressed, causing numbness, tingling, and pain in your hand.


Hand & Finger Fractures

Fractures can have any number of causes, with one common cause being a fall onto an outstretched arm. Fractures may be obvious—you may have swelling and pain at the site of the injury, or the bone may be visibly deformed. In other cases, such as a scaphoid fracture, you may not realize that a fracture has occurred. A scaphoid fracture causes pain and swelling at the base of the thumb, and is often mistaken for a sprain.


Trigger Finger

Your fingers work like a set of ropes and pulleys. Tendons (the ropes) slide through a series of tendon sheaths (the pulleys) at the joints. In trigger finger, the tendon develops a nodule or thickened area, which stops it from sliding freely through the tendon sheath. Your finger will “lock” at a certain point when you attempt to straighten it.


Arthritis of the Hand

All joints are susceptible to arthritis, including the joints of your hand. In osteoarthritis, the smooth cartilage covering the ends of the bones of the joint erodes, eventually leaving bone grating on bone and causing pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition affecting the joints, and commonly attacks the hands. It causes pain and inflammation of the joints.


De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

Similar to trigger finger, this condition makes it difficult for the tendon at the base of the thumb to slide through its tendon sheath. Unlike trigger finger, this condition only affects the thumb and it is the tendon sheath that is inflamed, rather than the tendon itself. De Quervain’s tenosynovitis can make wrist and hand motions involving the thumb painful and difficult to perform.


Ganglion Cysts

These are small, fluid-filled lumps that form on the underside of your wrists or hands. They most often occur along the tendons or at the joints, and though they’re harmless, if they’re large or are in the wrong position, they may put pressure on a nerve and cause hand pain.


Sprained Ligaments

Ligaments are the thick, tough connective tissues that connect two bones together to form a joint. Your hand and wrist contain many ligaments, and any of them can sustain an injury. A sprain is what we call an injury to a ligament.


Find Treatment for Common Causes of Hand Pain at NY Orthopedics

NY Orthopedics’ Hand, Wrist, Elbow & Shoulder Center is home to a team of fellowship-trained NYC hand specialists who are dedicated to treating hand injuries and conditions, both sports and non sports-related.


We offer a full range of treatments for hand pain and emphasize using nonsurgical methods whenever possible. However, in cases when surgery is necessary, our patients have access to the latest, state-of-the-art procedures. Our team of physicians includes a leading specialist in complex hand injuries and microsurgery of the hand, Dr. Steven J. Lee.


Some of the treatments for hand pain that we offer include:

  • Cortisone injections
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Platelet rich plasma (PRP)
  • Physical therapy
  • Ligament reconstruction
  • Diagnostic arthroscopy
  • Endoscopic carpal tunnel release
  • Trigger finger release


While there are a multitude of hand pain causes, you don’t have to let hand pain interfere with your life. Schedule your appointment today, and let the hand specialists at NY Orthopedics discuss your treatment options with you.

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