What are the Most Common Causes of Hand Pain?

Lauren Romano

Hand pain can be incredibly difficult to deal with, especially for someone who works with their hands on a daily basis. Among the common causes of hand pain are sprains, arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Depending on the cause, the pain may be temporary or permanent and the level of pain can range from minor to extreme.

Pain in the hand is often the result of an injury to the area.
Pain in the hand is often the result of an injury to the area.

When the median nerve experiences pressure, such as from injury or constant use, it can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, which is one of the causes of hand pain. Although the pain starts in the wrist, the pain can extend slightly up the arm and down to the fingertips. The person will also feel numbness in the hand while holding an item.

Rheumatoid arthritis can cause hand pain and stiffness.
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause hand pain and stiffness.

A sprain or strain can also cause hand pain. It can start in the wrist or fingers and happen due to a fall, from participating in sports or from moving or lifting an item. In addition to pain, there may also be swelling and limited movement.

Repetitive motion can cause carpal tunnel syndrome and hand pain.
Repetitive motion can cause carpal tunnel syndrome and hand pain.

Another cause of hand pain may be rheumatoid arthritis, a disorder that causes pain and swelling in the body — usually in the hands and feet. It can cause stiffness, redness and severe pain and swelling in the joints. The person may also have difficulty holding or managing even the smallest of items.

Sprains are a common cause of hand pain.
Sprains are a common cause of hand pain.

De Quervain's tenosynovitis is another possible reason for hand pain. The condition happens when the tendons that run from the wrist to the thumb get inflamed and symptoms can include swelling and pain at the bottom part of the thumb. Doing the simplest of tasks, including cooking or lifting an item, can not only cause pain but can also make the condition worse.

Arthritis is a common cause of hand pain.
Arthritis is a common cause of hand pain.

Broken bones in the hand or wrist can cause pain in addition to bruising, swelling, numbness or an obvious twisted and deformed look to the hand. There may also be difficulty moving the hand or fingers, especially while trying to grip an item. Upon suspecting a broken hand, it's imperative to go to a doctor immediately to prevent the hand from healing improperly or from having the damage get any worse.

Although hand pain may seem miniscule enough to wait it out, it's important to go to a doctor as soon as possible. Depending on the cause, muscle damage, increasing pain and nerve damage can occur if the condition is not properly treated in a timely manner. Considering it's a very frequently used part of the body, taking the time to get a quick checkup can help prevent a lifetime of hand pain and problems.

It's imperative to see a doctor for hand pain, especially if broken bones are suspected.
It's imperative to see a doctor for hand pain, especially if broken bones are suspected.

Discussion Comments

donasmrs

Aside from pain, what other symptoms does hand nerve damage cause?

I have pain, tingling and numbness but I know that these are also symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. How do I know if I have carpal tunnel syndrome or another type of nerve damage?

ysmina

@ddljohn-- What kind of tasks are you doing with your hands? Do you do a lot of repetitive movements?

It sounds a strain but it could be nerve damage as well. It's probably a good idea to see a doctor about it. The fact that the pain starts later in the day makes me think that some kind of activity is triggering the pain. Try resting for a few days and see if the pain decreases.

I had something similar happen to me a few weeks ago. I type on the computer all day and due to poor arm and hand position, I started getting wrist and hand pain. I realized that it was because of typing and I bought one of those wrist support cushions while I work on the computer. The pain went away afterward.

ddljohn

I've been having hand pain for the past few days. It's mainly my right hand and the pain usually starts in the afternoon. Once it starts, it lasts for hours and it feels like a dull ache that goes from my wrist to my fingers. What might be the cause?

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