Overview of Wrist and Hand Pain

Overview of Hand and Wrist Pain

Your hands and wrists work together to accomplish many tasks. When either is hurt, it’s difficult for the other to operate. Your hands and wrists operate from the connections of bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles that all work together. When one or more of these areas is hurt, the others suffer too.

Hand and wrist pain may develop due to light strain and overuse. In these cases, the pain may go away after a few days of resting, icing and taking pain medication. However, some cases of hand and wrist pain are severe and require professional treatment.

If your hand or wrist pain is severe, do not ignore the problem. Trying to be tough or waiting for it to go away will only result in more severe pain and, possibly, permanent disability.

Continue reading to learn more about hand and wrist pain, their symptoms, causes and treatments.

Symptoms of hand and wrist pain

The most obvious symptom of hand and wrist pain is pain itself. This pain may be dull and achy or sharp and burning depending on the cause. This pain is not always a cause for alarm, but if it is severe or long-lasting, you should seek professional treatment.

Other signs you should seek professional treatment for hand and wrist pain include:

  • Swelling or redness
  • Difficulty grasping objects
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Swollen fingers
  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers or wrist
  • Sudden pain in the hand

If you notice any of these symptoms, please visit your primary care provider for treatment and diagnosis.

Causes of hand and wrist pain

Since the hands and wrists are so complex, they are at risk for many types of injuries and conditions. If you’re suffering from pain, your physician will examine your hand and wrist to identify the cause, which may include one of the following:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome — The carpal tunnel is the channel through which your median nerve runs. Repetitive strain and overuse can cause the carpal tunnel to grow more narrow and put pressure on this nerve. This causes pain in your wrist, which may stem into your hand as well.
  • Arthritis  The joints in your hands and wrists may be worn down by arthritis. Arthritis can develop from overuse and old age or may be the result of an immune disease known as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Tendinitis  The tendons are the connective tissue between your muscles and joints. Overuse and strain can cause painful inflammation in these tendons, known as tendinitis.
  • Ganglion cysts — These are cysts that form in the soft tissue of your wrist near the back of your hand.
  • Traumatic injury — A severe impact or falling on your hand or wrist can cause an injury, such as fractures or sprains.

Diagnosing hand and wrist pain

An accurate diagnosis is important because it paves the path for an effective treatment for your pain. Your health care provider will need to examine the symptoms of your pain to diagnose a hand or wrist condition. He or she will ask questions related to your pain and review other factors like age, sex and medical history.

Additionally, some tests may be required to make an accurate diagnosis, including:

  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • EMG (electromyography)
  • Ultrasound

These tests provide images of your bones and soft tissue and other clues that help your health care provider determine the cause of your pain.

Treating hand and wrist pain

Treating hand and wrist pain will depend on the cause of your pain and other factors like age and medical history. Medication and physical therapy are common means of treating pain, but some severe conditions may require surgery.

Physical therapy is a preferred treatment option for many people because it is noninvasive and effective. The primary goal is to strengthen and stretch the muscles and ligaments, which can help reduce pain and increase functionality.

Many physical therapy treatments for the hands and wrists include:

  • Stretching and exercising
  • Massage
  • Cold and hot therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Controlled movements
  • Posture education

If your condition is so severe that you need surgery, you should still look into physical therapy. A physical therapist can help your body prepare for surgery and with recovery afterward.

Schedule an appointment for hand and wrist pain at Advent Physical Therapy

The team at Advent Physical Therapy has been treating conditions like hand and wrist pain for more than 20 years. If you are suffering from hand or wrist pain and would like help reducing your pain and regaining your range of motion, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our physical therapists.