What is Hand Pain?
Your hand, and all of its bones and joints, ligaments and tendons, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels, are used in almost every activity that you do. Whether it is due to overuse, sudden strain or injury, hand pain can range from inconvenient to completely debilitating.. This can prevent you from doing even the simplest of tasks, like eating or holding your phone.
Pain in your hand is defined as any discomfort that occurs between your wrist and fingertips, and it can range in intensity from a mild annoyance to chronic pain that prevents you from your normal range of activities.
Hand pain can even be caused by sleeping on your hand, which may lead to nerve damage over the course of a few hours.
Pain in your hand may feel sharp, dull, tingly, or throbbing and it may be accompanied by the onset of redness, stiffness, or swelling.
Hand Pain Symptoms and Signs
Hand pain may feel differently to everyone, as we all have individual pain tolerance levels. However, it can range from a slight soreness to the complete loss of function of your hand while being accompanied by excruciating pain. Hand pain can also be generalized across your entire hand or be localized to a single area.
Sometimes, it can be caused by a laceration or cut to your skin, nerves, and tendons. Hand pain may also be brought on after a fall on your outstretched hand (FOOSH) if you have fractures, dislocated bones, torn ligaments, cartilage, or muscles. At Handsport Surgery Institute, we always recommend that people experiencing hand pain see a professional who specializes in hand surgery to identify the cause of your hand pain and properly treat your symptoms, conservatively or surgically.
Structural Damage to Your Hand
If you have recently experienced a traumatic event, such as a car accident, slip and fall, punched, or even get your hand caught in a doorway or underneath a piece of machinery, you may have experienced structural damage to your hand. In these cases, your hand pain will likely have begun suddenly after the injury and may be accompanied by stiffness and swelling.
In these cases, your hand pain will likely have come on suddenly after the accident and is accompanied by bruising and swelling.
Structural damage to your hand can mean that you have fractured a bone in your hand, torn a ligament, severed a nerve or tendon or dislocated a bone. If a bone is broken or fractured and treatment is delayed, you may be putting the functionality of your hand at risk.
Why do my Hands Hurt?
Whether or not you have experienced a traumatic event, any hand pain that you are experiencing should be taken seriously. If the pain does not remit quickly, the pain worsens, the color of your hand changes or sudden swelling occurs, please contact Handsport Surgery Institute.
Common Causes of Hand Pain
Ligament Injuries are often associated with pain, swelling, and bruising. The range of motion of the hand may be limited as a result of pain and stiffness. Ligament injuries in your hand may be caused by falling, catching or lifting an object, or during exercise and sports.
Extensor tendon injuries (or extensor tendon rupture):
Hand pain can also be caused by an injury or rupture of your extensor tendons. This occurs when the tendon itself may tear or become completely detached as a result of an injury. Extensor tendon injuries and ruptures commonly occur from exercise and sports injuries, an accident or fall, or from a laceration.
One of the most common causes of hand pain is, unfortunately, caused aging or the premature onset of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis refers to the loss of cartilage that typically covers the ends of your bones and allows joints to move smoothly. As the cartilage wears away, bone may rub on bone and cause pain, loss of movement, and deformities.
One of the most common causes of hand pain is, unfortunately, more common in the genetically predisposed and some joints with prior injury.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that causes swelling and potential deformation of joints over time. Affecting the synovial tissue, which lubricates our joints to allow for painless movement, rheumatoid arthritis can cause hand pain due to the swelling that deforms cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and bones in your hand.
Joint dislocation may occur after a slip and fall or other types of accidents where a finger or part of your hand was placed in an unnatural position that forced a bone out of its joint.
Joint dislocations are painful but, fortunately, treatable by a professional. However, it can be difficult to tell whether a joint is dislocated or broken without getting professionally diagnosed. If left untreated, joint dislocations or broken bones in your hand can cause serious complications.
Finger Flexor Tendon Rupture
In some cases flexor tendons that travel through your hand and into your fingers can rupture or become damaged. When this occurs, you may only experience mild pain or weakness in your hand, as well as partial or complete loss of motion of the affected finger.
Tendon ruptures can refer to a complete or partial tear, related to the severity of the injury. In numerous cases a tendon can tear or rupture after a part of your hand is pulled into an unnatural position or while climbing. In particularly, rock climbers are at risk for finger flexor tendon and pulley injuries.
Finger fractures are a common cause of hand pain. Typically occurring after a fall, getting your fingers slammed in a door, or injuring your finger while playing a contact sport, finger fractures can range in severity.
Fingers are complex and commonly used joints, making treatment by an expert in orthopedic hand surgery essential in regaining comfort and mobility of your fingers following a fracture.
Unfortunately, individuals who live in northern states, or are visiting a cold area during the winter, can be at risk for frostbite.
Frostbite, which is typically accompanied by a sharp or burning sensation followed by eventual numbness. This occurs after your hand is exposed to extremely cold temperatures and it results in tissue damage that may require extensive treatment if left untreated.
A laceration is any cut or open wound that can occur on your hand and cause damage as well as pain. Lacerations are some of the most common injuries that may accidentally occur in a variety of situations, such as cooking.
While some lacerations can be minor and the patient can avoid stitches, some lacerations require immediate medical attention, stitches, or even microsurgery to repair important structures in your hand that were damaged.
If you have experienced a laceration on your hand, it is often accompanied by sharp pain and bleeding. It is imperative that you have hand lacerations treated by a professional to find out where or not muscles, nerves, and tendons were damaged.
Metacarpal fractures occur when the long bones in your hands are damaged after an injury such as a slip and fall, punch or traumatic event in a contact sport, such as football.
The metacarpals are the five bones located between your wrist bones and fingers. You can most easily feel some of them move when typing or wiggling your fingers. In fact, these bones form the support and contribute to the movement of your fingers and your grip strength, which make treatment imperative.
This type of fracture most commonly occurs as a result of a slip and fall, during a boxing match, or if an object impacts your hand. If you have experienced a metacarpal fracture, you will experience pain, swelling, bruising, and potentially numbness in the area.
Getting a Diagnosis for Your Hand Pain
If you are experiencing pain in your hand, you will need to undergo a careful physical examination by a professional to truly pinpoint the cause of your discomfort.
You may receive an x-ray as well as a test on how well your fingers are able to move and grip things.
Treatment Options for Hand Pain
At Handsport Surgery Institute, surgery is the last resort for our patients. Instead, we prefer to work closely with patients to alleviate their symptoms and address any injuries without needing to resort to surgery.
Some treatment options may include physical therapy, splinting, the use of a long-term cast, or steroid injections. However, in order to determine the treatment plan that will work best for you, you’ll need to receive a full examination.
If You Believe You are Experiencing Traumatic Hand Pain, Contact Us
Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with our talented team. Hand Pain can present in many ways and be caused by many things. Call Dr. Pruzansky at 212-249-8700 to schedule an appointment, obtain an accurate diagnosis, and start to try and improve the function of your hand.