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Hand Pain: Injury or Illness

Hand Pain: Injury or Illness

What are the Symptoms?

Any discomfort that occurs in the joints or tissues of the hands or fingers can be classed as hand pain. It may happen as a sensation of stiffness, tingling, soreness, aching, throbbing, or increased warmth. Patients may also experience a burning or prickling sensation that is often referred to as pins and needles. This type of pain occurs as the result of paresthesia’s that is caused by permanent or temporary damage to or pressure on the nerves. Pain in the hands can have numerous causes.

The Intricate Hand Structure

The hands consist of several types of tissue including skin, bone, muscle, nerves, blood vessels, and tendons. The joints where bones meet are made of cartilage, ligaments, and fluids that lubricate and cushion the joint. When any of these tissues or structures are injured or afflicted with a disorder or disease, pain is a common occurrence.

Injuries and Trauma

The most common cause of hand pain is injury or trauma. This may occur as the result of a sudden injury or from repetitive use. Sports-related injuries and conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome are especially common causes of pain. Injuries may consist of cuts, dislocations, fractures, sprains, strains, lacerations, blunt force trauma, of splinters. Minor injuries will usually heal on their own while serious injuries typically require medical attention.

Disease and Inflammation

Hand pain may also be caused by various inflammatory, infectious, or degenerative diseases. Of these, one of the most common causes is arthritis that occurs when the cushioning between the joints begins to deteriorate. Other diseases include cellulitis, bursitis, infection, rheumatoid arthritis, or tendonitis.

Diagnosing and Testing

Treating hand pain requires determining the exact cause. In most cases, doctors will first examine the hand and ask the patient of a series of questions regarding the pain and any other symptoms he or she may be experiencing. Additional testing is often required to reach a complete diagnosis. The most common test utilized is the X-ray. MRIs, CT scans, and other tests may also be necessary. The treatment varies greatly depending upon the cause. Injuries may require surgery or immobilization to heal. Chronic conditions like arthritis may be managed through prescription medications or lifestyle changes. Infections and other complications may be treated using antibiotics or other medications. Deformities may require surgery. Doctors may also recommend physical or occupational therapy.

When to see a Doctor

Potential complications associated with hand pain include disability, gangrene, the spread of infection, or permanent deformity. The risk of these complications can be minimized by seeking medical treatment.