While pain can certainly occur after a hand or wrist injury, there are also many other reasons why your hands might hurt. Treatment strategies can range from conservative therapy aimed at decreasing symptoms and promoting function to surgery. Orthopedic hand specialists are specifically trained in hand pain management. Here’s a bit more about hand pain, courtesy of the Florida Hand Center in Florida.
De Quervain’s Tendinitis
This condition causes pain on the thumb side of the wrist; it occurs because of irritation and inflammation of the wrist tendons at the base of the thumb. Wrist fractures increase the risk of de Quervain’s and repeatedly holding the wrist in certain positions may also cause irritation.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The median nerve runs through a “tunnel” between the wrist and hand. Compression and swelling of the nerve cause tingling, pain and weakness of the thumb, index and middle finger. Repetitive motions like typing or operating machinery can result in carpal tunnel syndrome.
Obviously the initial fracture can cause pain, but hand pain may also occur for months after a fracture, with stiffness, swelling and loss of motion. Sometimes fractures also result in deformity or shortened tendons and ligaments.
Arthritis is probably the most common cause of hand pain in the older adult. Women are more susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis, but both men and women can develop degenerative arthritis. Pain, stiffness, swelling, inflamed joints and sometimes joint deformities are common symptoms.
Stenosing tenosynovitis, or trigger finger, occurs when the tendon become shortened and locks the fingers or thumb in a bent position. The cause is unknown. Straightening the affected digit can be painful and the deformity limits motion.
In most cases, the first treatments for hand pain involve conservative therapy. Rest may be helpful, especially in cases where overuse is the primary reason for the pain. A splint or brace can help to limit movement and provide support. Anti-inflammatory medications can help relieve discomfort, although they don’t resolve the actual condition. Physical therapy can help improve flexibility and promote function in affected joints. Some of these conditions respond to joint injections with cortisone and a local anesthetic. Joint injections can usually only be repeated once or twice.
When Surgery is Necessary
If conservative therapy is not successful surgery may be necessary. The actual procedure varies depending on the condition. For example, carpal tunnel surgery involves expanding the “tunnel” to give the median nerve more room. A trigger finger can be resolved by lengthening the affected tendon. For rheumatoid or degenerative arthritis, a joint replacement may be the best choice. These procedures can usually be performed as outpatient surgeries. Physical therapy is typically required to improve function after healing is complete.
No matter what your hand condition, the doctors at the Florida Hand Center can help. We offer both conservative therapy and surgical solutions. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment.