Our hands are incredibly versatile and play a crucial role in our daily lives. So, when hand pain strikes, it can disrupt our routines and hinder our ability to perform even the simplest tasks. In this blog post, we'll dive into some common causes of hand pain and provide insights into what might be behind your discomfort. Let's unlock the secrets of hand pain together.
To understand the common causes of hand pain, it's important to have a basic understanding of the anatomy of this intricate and versatile part of our body. The hand is a complex structure composed of bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, working together to provide strength, dexterity, and precise movements.
The hand consists of three main parts: the palm (also known as the palm of the hand), the back of the hand, and the fingers. The palm is made up of the metacarpal bones, which connect the fingers to the wrist. These bones are responsible for providing a solid foundation for grasping and gripping objects.
The back of the hand is composed of various small bones called the carpal bones, which are arranged in two rows. These bones connect the hand to the forearm and allow for flexibility and movement. They form the wrist joint, which acts as a connection point between the hand and the forearm.
The fingers, including the thumb, are each made up of three small bones called phalanges, except for the thumb, which has two. These bones are connected by joints that enable bending and straightening movements. The joints are supported and stabilized by ligaments, which are strong bands of connective tissue.
Muscles and tendons play a vital role in controlling the movements of the hand. The muscles, located in the forearm, have long tendons that extend into the hand. These tendons pass through tunnels known as tendon sheaths and allow the muscles to control the intricate movements of the fingers and thumb.
Additionally, blood vessels and nerves run throughout the hand, supplying oxygen, nutrients, and sensory information. The blood vessels ensure proper circulation, while the nerves transmit signals to and from the brain, allowing us to feel and control our hand movements.
Common Causes of Hand Pain
Arthritis is a common culprit of hand pain and can affect people of all ages. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most prevalent types that affect the hand joints. Arthritis can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and reduced range of motion. If you're experiencing hand pain accompanied by these symptoms, arthritis might be to blame.
2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs through a narrow passageway in the wrist called the carpal tunnel, becomes compressed. This can lead to pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand. If you frequently use your hands for repetitive tasks or experience symptoms that worsen at night, carpal tunnel syndrome may be the cause of your hand pain.
Tendinitis refers to inflammation or irritation of the tendons, the tissues that connect muscles to bones. In the hand, tendinitis commonly affects the tendons around the thumb, leading to pain and difficulty with gripping or grasping objects. If you're experiencing pain when using your hand or notice swelling and tenderness around the affected area, tendinitis may be the culprit.
4. Trigger Finger
Trigger finger, or stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition that affects the tendons in the fingers and thumb. It causes the affected finger to get stuck in a bent position and then suddenly straighten with a snapping or popping sensation. If you're experiencing hand pain accompanied by finger stiffness, clicking, or locking, trigger finger could be the cause.
5. Fractures and Injuries
Hand pain can also result from fractures, sprains, or other injuries. A fall, direct impact, or excessive force can lead to hand pain, swelling, deformity, and difficulty moving the affected hand. If you recently had an accident or injury and are experiencing persistent hand pain, seeking medical attention is crucial to ensure proper healing.
When to Seek Help
If your hand pain persists, worsens, or significantly affects your daily activities, it's important to seek professional help. A skilled healthcare provider, such as a hand therapist or physical therapist, can evaluate your hand, determine the underlying cause of your pain, and develop an individualized treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms.
Treatment for hand pain depends on the specific cause and severity of your condition. It may include rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), hand exercises to improve strength and flexibility, splinting or bracing, pain-relieving modalities, and in some cases, medication or surgical intervention.
Understanding the common causes of hand pain is the first step toward finding relief and restoring optimal hand function. If you're experiencing persistent or debilitating hand pain, don't hesitate to reach out to our team at Nashville Physical Therapy & Performance. We're here to provide you with the expert care and guidance you need to overcome hand pain and regain the full functionality of your hands.
- Arthritis Foundation. (n.d.). Hand Arthritis. Retrieved from https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/hand-arthritis
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2019). Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Retrieved from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Tendinitis. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tendinitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20378243
- American Society for Surgery of the Hand. (2020). Trigger Finger (Stenosing Tenosynovitis). Retrieved from https://www.assh.org/handcare/hand-arm-conditions/trigger-finger
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Broken Wrist. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/broken-wrist/symptoms-causes/syc-20352278