Hand Pain: Symptoms, Causes, Risks, Complications, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

A woman who holding her hand because of her hand pain


The hand has is composed of bones, tendons, muscles, and cartilage that allows movement of the hand.  The structures of the hand are very complex and are built to do heavy and continue work but sometimes the hand goes underwear and tear, injuries and sometimes be affected by diseases and with these circumstances, the person may feel pain in the hand.

When the person is experiencing pain, the doctor may find it difficult to diagnose the specific cause of the pain in the hand because of many circumstances and factors to consider. Home remedies and also treatments are readily available some may be in health centers and hospitals.


A simple tingling sensation on the hand is a symptom that poses an underlying problem. Every day we use our hands to eat, to clean the house, to write and draw, and is important when we work: for surgeons, a steady hand is needed to perform procedures like surgeries, for a painter to paint a portrait, a chef, to prepare irresistible foods etc. When the hand undergoes immense pressure and stress, it tends to show symptoms that usually people ignore. Some are:

  • Stiffness can be felt if the person has a degenerative disease like osteoarthritis and unattended injuries like bad sprains, dislocations, and fractures. It affects the bones and ligaments that contribute to the movement of the hand.
  • Pain and tenderness are felt when the person has injuries or a nerve is impeded.
  • Numbing sensation happens when a nerve is damaged or injured that it cannot send signals to the brain.
  • A bump has developed on the hands especially on the fingers are seen with patients with problems in the bone.
  • Swelling is one of the 5 cardinal signs of the inflammatory process. The water retention is evident when there is an injury.
  • Unable to move the hand when doing activities of daily living, just like stiffness, persons having problems moving their hands is accompanied by pain.
  • Change in color of the skin
    • Pale to bluish – there is no sufficient blood supply in the hand that is circulating.
    • Redone sign of infection occurring in the hand


There are different factors that cause hand pain which includes wear and tear, diseases and injuries.

Tendon pain

The tendon is a thin and fibrous material that connects the muscles and the bones to facilitate movement of the two structures. The tendons tend to have micro tears due to overwork or after an intense activity. Tendon pain is one of the tall tale sign for tendonitis, aside from pain there is a noticeable weakness upon moving the hand.

Repetitive Motion Syndrome

As the name implies, the repetitive motion of the hand causes stress on the hand and may be accompanied by pain and swelling.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The median nerve is responsible for the transmission of impulses to the brain in order for the hand to move. When the nerve is impeded there will be numbness and weakness in the hands and including the fingers. Pain is also present and may cause impairment of the hands.

Trigger finger

When there is an inflammation in the hands, the sheath is constricted thus limiting the hand and fingers in the position they are in, sometimes it is in a bent position. Women with diabetes are at risk of having a trigger finger.

De Quervain’s disease

It is an inflammation of the thumb and the wrist that causes pain when the person turns his or wrist and even grasping is difficult to do.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

It is a disease that involves the destruction of the lining between bones. When the hand moves, the tendency is that the bones will rub at each other causing pain. Rheumatoid arthritis has no causative agent because it is said to one of the autoimmune diseases.


Just like Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus is also an autoimmune disease that attacks the joints of the hands and fingers.


A ganglion is a fluid-filled lump that has developed in the fingers especially in the joints. The lump then causes discomfort to the person when doing activities.


It is the inflammation of the joints that causes pain in the hands. The mobilization of the hand is affected like bending or grasping objects. Osteoarthritis does not only affects the hands of a person but it can also affect other joints in the body.

Raynaud’s phenomenon

The narrowing of the blood vessels can cause many different problems from the sensation to the circulation of blood. When the blood is unable to go to the peripheries of the hand, it tends to feel a numbing sensation and can be worse felt when it is during the cold weather.

Fracture and sprains

People who have fractures (a break in the bone) and sprains require special management for pain.

Risk Factors

A hand pain is absolutely a problem for persons who are suffering from it. The risk factors depend on the cause of the hand pain like:

Family history

Those who have a family member who has the same conditions like arthritis and joint problems.


People who work at high paced jobs that require them to have their hands work double time can put them at risk of having repetitive motion syndrome.


Having diabetes might have a great impact in acquiring rheumatoid arthritis


Females have a higher risk of having hand pains like trigger finger than men.


Hand pain, when left untreated or not managed well, will cause long-term damage to the hand and can have detrimental effects on the person.

Permanent nerve damage

The median nerve that is impeded if not addressed properly will cause permanent damage to the hand. The numbness sensation and pain will be worse over time.


When doing some work, the usual pain that the person is experiencing will be worse, that pain medication is the only treatment that can relieve the pain.

Decrease hand function

Nerve damage may result in decrease nerve signals to the brain having the hand loss its function partially or even permanently.

Muscle damage

The muscles can be damaged due to repetitive overwork and no management has been done. The muscles will have shear and tear evident when the muscle is strained severely.


Diagnosing the cause of the hand pain may help the doctor give the proper treatment to the patient. In a doctor’s visit the, he will do a thorough physical assessment and asks questions that involves the onset of pain in the hand. There are also other ways to determine the proper diagnosis of the patient.

Imaging Test

Using x-ray to the hand may help the doctor visualize the structure of the hand. If there any deviations in the hands like fractures, narrowing of joint spaces and bone spurs (Bone overgrowth), the doctor will see and it can diagnose what is the exact cause of the pain.

A bone scan is also used to determine if the pain felt by the patient is associated to the bone. It requires a radioactive fluid that is injected into the veins when the material adheres to the bone, it indicates that there is a presence of growth in the bone.

Blood test

Drawing blood from the patient to test specific blood component can help the doctor diagnose the patient. Rheumatoid factor is an antibody that is seen with patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and the presence of this component during a blood test can tell that the person has arthritis that is supporting the pain that the patient is feeling.

Joint fluid test

Joint fluids are usually clear, and if the fluid contains crystals it is usually uric acid that causes gout. Sometimes the test reveals infection that causes inflammation of the joints and even muscles.


The most common treatments are pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
However, home remedies can also be used for pain relief and reduction of inflammation.

After the proper diagnosis has been made, there are several self-management measures that can be done to manage pain and some are medications too.

  • Splinting can help stabilize the hands to reduce the pain when moving. Immobilizations of the hand will help it recover from injuries and stress.
  • Apply hot and cold compress also helps relieve pain and swelling of the hands. The cold compress help the muscles recover from fatigue after an intense work and the hot compress helps the muscles relax when it is stiff.
  • Proper exercises and stretches of the hands can help loosen the muscle tension in the hands and it also increases the strength of the muscles if it is done the right way.
  • Pain relievers like a Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) block the enzymes that are responsible for the pain and sometimes even swelling.
  • Surgery can help restore bone fractures and tears in the muscles and tendons.


Take rests in between work, relaxing or massaging your hands can help the muscles loosen and relieve the stress on the tendons and bones. Make a forearm stretch, make a fist and finger exercises can help relieve the pain. Use protective gear when working especially construction workers, beauticians because of the harsh chemicals used for hairs etc.