Think of all the things you do each day using your wrists, hands and fingers. You may not even be aware of the many nerves, blood vessels, muscles and small bones that work together as you perform a task as simple as turning a key in the door until the movement becomes painful.
Pain may be caused by sudden injuries such as sprains or fractures. But long-term medical problems also may cause wrist and hand pain, such as arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and the wear and tear from overuse or repetitive movements.
The amount of pain may vary, depending on what’s causing it. For example, pain from osteoarthritis is often described as similar to a dull toothache, while tendinitis usually causes a sharp, stabbing pain. The location of pain also may provide clues as to what is causing signs and symptoms.
Ganglion cysts are fluid-filled lumps that usually appear along tendons and joints of your wrists and hands. Ganglions are sometimes painful and, if bothersome, may require treatment.
Seek medical care immediately if a lump becomes painful and inflamed or if a cyst breaks through the skin and begins to drain.
To relieve wrist and hand pain:
- Follow the instructions for R.I.C.E
- Over-the-counter pain medications if needed.
To prevent wrist and hand problems:
- Build bone strength with a diet that includes adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin C to prevent fractures.
- Use tools with large handles so you don’t rave to grip them as hard.
- Remove rings from your finger before doing manual labor. If you injure your hand, remove rings before your fingers become swollen.
- Take frequent breaks to rest muscles you’re using regularly and try to vary activities so you’re not always using the same muscles.
- Do flexibility and strengthening exercises.
- Try out special ergonomic devices that can make you more comfortable, improve posture and protect your wrists and hands.
Minor sprains and strains usually respond to rest, ice and over-the-counter pain medications. But if pain and swelling last longer than a few days or becomes worse, try to see your medical doctor for medical care immediately.
- You suspect a fracture.
- A fall or accident has caused rapid swelling and moving the area is painful.
- The area is hot and inflamed and you have a fever.