Due in part to the prevalence of smartphones and computer-focused job duties, hand pain is more common now than ever. The discomfort may originate in a muscle, bone, joint, tendon, or ligament. After determining the underlying cause, an orthopedic specialist can suggest an appropriate treatment plan.
Why Does My Hand Hurt?
Some common causes of hand pain include:
A leading source of hand pain, osteoarthritis is a progressive loss of joint cartilage, which normally allows bones to glide smoothly against each other. As cartilage breaks down and wears away, bone-on-bone contact can occur, leading to pain, swelling, stiffness, and weakness. While osteoarthritis often results from natural, age-related degeneration, a traumatic injury can hasten its onset or progression.
Osteoarthritis treatment can vary depending on the severity of its symptoms. Some options include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), pain relievers, splinting, heat applications, physical therapy, and, in very severe cases, surgery.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A common nerve disorder, carpal tunnel syndrome develops when the median nerve—a large nerve that controls sensation and movement in the thumb and fingers—is pinched at the point where it passes through the wrist. This narrow passageway (the carpal tunnel) can become constricted by an inflamed tendon.
Some common treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome include rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), pain relievers, splinting, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, and surgery.
A Bone Fracture
In addition to pain, a broken hand bone can cause swelling, stiffness, and loss of movement. Treatment can vary depending on the type of fracture, which may be:
- Not Displaced – The broken bone is aligned and stable.
- Displaced – The broken bone has shifted out of position.
- Comminuted – The bone is broken in more than one place.
- Open – The broken bone has pierced the skin.
To stabilize a simple fracture, a splint or cast may be sufficient. However, pins, wires, or plates may need to be surgically placed to treat a more complex fracture.
Also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, trigger finger occurs when the flexor tendon that allows the finger to bend gets caught within its protective sheath. Normally, the tendon glides smoothly within its sheath, but its movement can be inhibited by inflamed tissue. Trigger finger can cause pain, stiffness, and a catching sensation whenever the affected finger bends or straightens.
Treatment options for trigger finger include rest, splinting, over-the-counter pain relievers, and corticosteroid injections. If conservative treatment is insufficient, surgery may be considered.
If you’re interested in exploring your treatment options for hand pain, you are welcome to consult with Peter D. Vizzi, MD. As a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Vizzi helps many people overcome painful hand conditions. Contact Dr. Vizzi’s office in Lafayette, Louisiana, to request an appointment.