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5 Common Causes of Hand Pain

by Joe Fleming
4 minutes read

Noticing that nagging pain when you move your hand a certain way? Having trouble sleeping at night because of wrist and hand pain? Chances are your hand pain could be because of one of these common causes:


Dealing with arthritis pain? You’re not alone. Roughly 1 in 5 people over the age of 18 in the U.S. live with doctor diagnosed arthritis according to the Arthritis Foundation. Arthritis is a chronic condition in which one or more joints in the body becomes inflamed – this can lead to stiffness, pain, and limited range of motion.

Many rheumatoid and osteoarthritis sufferers put up with hand pain specifically due to their illness, especially when grabbing, grasping, and picking up items. In addition to hand exercises that stretch and strengthen hand muscles and loosen joints, experts recommend arthritis sufferers utilize wearable aids like arthritis gloves to help stabilize and compress vulnerable joints. Ease of use tools like reacher grabbers and handle grippers also help hand pain suffers pick up items with less pain.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel develops for many adults who have spent years doing a job or hobby which required the same repeated motion of their hand (i.e. using vibrating hand or power tools on a construction site). Other underlying conditions can lead to this type of hand pain as well including high blood pressure, fluid retention from pregnancy or menopause, thyroid dysfunction, or a fracture/trauma to the wrist.

What is carpal tunnel exactly? There is a large nerve called the median nerve which runs down your forearm to your hand. Around the wrist area it passes through a small corridor called the ‘carpal tunnel.’ Inflammation of the carpal tunnel because of the aforementioned conditions causes swelling and places pressure on that sensitive nerve. This induces sensations of numbness and pain, as well as increased weakness in the thumb side of your palm. Experts recommend stabilizing the carpal tunnel region with a wrist or thumb spica brace to limit motion and reduce swelling.


The natural aging process affects not only your activity levels and cognitive quickness, but your physical health as well, especially in your hands. Older adults will often experience a naturally growing weakness in hand and grip strength, as well as loss in bone density, decreased blood flow to hands, changes in skin and tone, and deterioration of muscles, joints, tendons, and nerves.

Chronic conditions like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, Parkinson’s, and obesity can exacerbate hand weakness and pain as you age as well. Some over the counter remedies like topical ointments, braces, and NSAIDs can help temporarily relieve pain, but medical experts always recommend seeing a doctor for ongoing hand pain. They may additionally recommend exercises, massage, or different more invasive treatment options to help you maintain the use of your hands.

Trigger Finger

When you use your hand and bend your fingers, tendons and ligaments are supposed to glide over one another smoothly without pain. Sometimes, however, the flexor tendons in your hand which help you move your fingers and thumb can become irritated. The sheath which surrounds the tendon can thicken and nodules may form on and around it.

Overtime, someone with this condition will notice a locking up of their finger or thumb when they try to bend and straighten it. Sometimes, the thickened tendon area will catch and then make a popping sound as it is released with this motion too. Experts recommend wearing a finger splint, especially while sleeping, to aid this condition as well as potentially taking pain relieving medicine or receiving cortisone shots.

De Quervain’s Tendinitis

This form of tendinitis specifically targets tendons in the thumb side of the wrist at the base of the thumb. Overuse and repeated awkward positioning of the wrist can result in inflammation of those tendons, precipitating mild to severe pain from the hand all the way up the forearm. People with De Quervain’s Tendinitis might find it hard to make a fist, rotate their wrist, or grab and hold objects.

New mothers are prone to experience this type of tendinitis simply if they repeatedly hold their babies in an awkward position. People who experience wrist fractures are also more susceptible to this type of hand pain. Medical treatment may involve bracing the affected area to stabilize it and limit range of motion, as well as taking anti-inflammatories and potentially receiving shots of pain-relieve cortisone.

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