Your hands are delicate, complex structures with 27 bones and connecting muscles, tendons and ligaments. Vulnerable to injury and some disease, the hands often send out pain signals when there’s something wrong. Morning hand pain can be caused by a number of conditions; here’s what you need to know, courtesy of the Florida Hand Center.
Causes of Hand Pain
Your hands might hurt because they are inflamed because you have nerve damage, a sprain or fracture. Repetitive motion injuries can also cause hand pain, as can chronic health conditions. A hand pain first thing in the morning, however, is more likely to indicate certain conditions. Here are some possibilities:
Arthritis – there are more than 100 different kinds of arthritis, but all cause inflammation of the joints. These conditions are the number one cause of hand pain and it often occurs first things in the morning, when the joints are stiff after not being used during the night. Although anyone can develop arthritis, certain kinds – like rheumatoid arthritis – occur more often in women.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – the median nerve runs from your forearm to the base of your palm through a narrow pathway (the carpal tunnel). If the nerves become irritated and swollen, it can cause hand and wrist pain. Carpal tunnel pain is more common at night than in the morning.
Gout – intensely painful, gout can affect any joint in the body including the hands. It often wakes people in the night but the pain can occur at any time of day.
Raynaud’s disease – this condition makes certain areas – especially the fingers and toes – become numb, cold and painful when exposed to cold. If the temperature of your bedroom cools during the night, you might wake with hand pain.
Stenosing tenosynovitis – a painful condition that occurs when your finger gets stuck in a bent position, this may cause you to wake with stiffness, pain, and inability to bend a finger in the morning. It usually affects only one finger.
Treating Hand Pain
While many of the conditions above can cause morning pain and stiffness, they are treated differently. Medications may be effective for arthritis and gout – although each requires different medicines. Carpal tunnel syndrome is treated with splints, rest, anti-inflammatory medications and sometimes surgery. Protecting your body from cold and not using tobacco in any form are the two most important treatments for Raynaud’s disease. Sometimes stenosing tenosynovitis is caused by another condition, in which case, both must be treated. In other cases, rest, gentle exercise and anti-inflammatory medications will do the trick. Occasionally, surgery is required.
Pain in the hand is always a problem because you can’t perform your daily activities without using your hands. The most important step is to have an assessment by a hand specialist and confirm the diagnosis, which may require lab tests or X-rays. Treatment can then be tailored to your particular problem. Don’t ignore hand pain, especially if it seems to be hanging on or getting worse. You could develop permanent restrictions in hand movement. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment.