Conditions > Hand and Wrist Pain
Hand and Wrist Pain
Hand pain can occur as a result of an overuse injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, a ganglion cyst, or osteoarthritis.
The first step to relieving hand pain is most often rest. Refrain from any movements that cause more pain.
Common treatments of hand pain can include a splint, gentle hand exercises, osteopathic manipulation treatments, or regenerative injections
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What causes hand pain?
If you are suffering from hand pain, it can appear in the palm of your hand, the wrist, or the top of the hand.
In this article, you will learn about the most common causes of hand and wrist pain and numbness. Although pain often manifests in the hand, the disorder often originates in the wrist.
The cause of your hand pain can be one or a combination of the following:
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Of course, many other possible causes of hand pain exist. I recommend you see your physician as treatments vary for each disorder of the hand and wrist.
Hand pain from overuse injury
Because you use your hands so often, an overuse injury could be responsible for your hand pain.
An overuse injury occurs when a repetitive movement strains your muscles and tendons, resulting in inflammation and pain of the tendons. Trigger points, tendonitis, and even golfer’s elbow can result from an overuse injury of the wrist.
Stopping the movement and resting the arm, hand, and wrist can resolve most overuse injuries.
Hand pain from carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is different than an overuse injury because it affects the nerve that passes through the wrist.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a compression of the median nerve when it passes through your wrist. The area through which this nerve runs is known as the carpal tunnel.
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms can include a combination of the following:
Pain in the hand and wrist
Numbness in the fingers
Tingling in the fingers
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms often occur at night when the wrist is compressed under the weight of the body.
In advanced cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, the nerve compression results in a loss of muscle tone in the hand and wrist. You might find yourself dropping things more frequently. This is because the muscle between your index finger and your thumb is losing muscle mass and getting weaker.
Hand pain from ganglion cyst
If you are experiencing pain on top of the hand, you may have a ganglion cyst.
A ganglion cyst is a noncancerous lump that develops along the wrist joint on the top of the hand and wrist. Ganglion cysts don't always hurt but can be responsible for your hand pain if it presses on the sensitive structures surrounding the wrist.
Depending on the size of the cyst, a ganglion cyst can form a visible lump on the top of the wrist or hand.
Osteoarthritis in the hand and wrist
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. This degenerative disorder can affect any joint in the body. Most often, hand pain caused by osteoarthritis occurs in the end of the fingers, the bottom of the thumb, or the wrist.
One telltale sign of osteoarthritis is morning pain, which typically goes away within 30 minutes.
Treatment of osteoarthritis in the hand should include a combination of nutritional changes, weight loss, osteopathic manipulation, acupuncture, and prolotherapy and PRP injections. You can learn more about osteoarthritis here.
Natural hand pain relief
So how can you relieve hand pain? To naturally relieve your hand pain, you will first need to rest the hand and wrist.
If there's a routine motion you're performing on a daily basis, refrain from doing it. This will prevent the hand pain from getting worse and allow your muscles and tendons to recover and regenerate.
Depending on your condition, rest may not be enough. In addition to rest, common treatments of hand pain can include a combination of the following:
Wearing a splint
Gentle hand exercises
Osteopathic manipulation treatments
Splints and Night Splints
Wearing a splint helps to stabilize your hand and wrist, allowing damaged structures a break from routine motions. Night splints, something I’m a big fan of, are put over the hand and wrist to help stabilize the hand during evening hours.
Exercises for hand pain
Here is a three-step exercise you can repeat throughout the day. This will stretch the tendons of the hand and wrist, relieving pressure from the median nerve, and maintain mobility of the hand and wrist.
Start with your fingers extended wide and bend your fingers to create a hook. Then extend your fingers. Next, make a full fist, and extend your fingers again. Finally, keeping your fingers straight, bring them down towards your wrist and extend them again.
Osteopathic manipulation treatments for hand pain
Osteopathic manipulation treatments can offer natural relief of carpal tunnel syndrome pain.
The bones in your wrist, known as the carpal bones, form a unique dome-shape under which tendons and nerves run. If any bones aren't properly aligned due to a past injury, for example, the space in that carpal region can begin to compress.
Osteopathic manipulation treatments can realign the carpal bones of the wrist, allowing fluids to drain from the area and space around the median nerve to increase.
On osteoarthritis of the wrist and hand: https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/best-ways-to-cope-with-hand-pain
On overuse injuries: https://www.painscience.com/articles/repetitive-strain-injuries.php
On osteopathic manipulation treatments: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22411967
Written by: Dr. Dan Williams, DO
Last edited: October 22, 2018