One of the most common complaints that I hear in my practice is my hands hurt. This is often followed by: I think it’s probably carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes, people are right, but not as often as you might think. Here are some of the most common causes of hand pain. Note: This is not an exhaustive list! And don’t diagnose and treat yourself. If you are having a problem, use common sense, and see your doctor. If you would like to see me for an evaluation, I would love to see you! Please contact us.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: It is true that many cases of hand pain are a result of carpal tunnel syndrome. People have many misconceptions about this disease. It CAN be treated without surgery, though not always cured. And neglecting it can only hurt. There are many non-surgical methods available such as physical therapy, massage, work station modification, splinting, and taking more breaks. Surgery also works, but it does have limitations, as any surgery does. It also helps to talk about your concerns and fears with a medical professional. I try to give my patients an honest picture of what is possible and what is not and what to expect.
- Arthritis: Especially in the wrist and particularly the thumb. These are common conditions that occur in the natural process of aging, and like knee and hip arthritis, there are many things you can do to help the pain. Also check out the blog entry I wrote on nutritional supplementation to find out more about the OTC meds available for arthritis pain. Once again, don’t neglect your pain. There are things you can do to help yourself!
- Tendinitis: There are many forms of tendinitis in the wrist, the most common perhaps being De Quervain’s. In tendinitis, the tendons become inflamed from overuse, much like your knees might become painful and inflamed after a long run. And luckily, many times we can actually provide a cure for this condition without surgery, using splints, steroids, and rest as well as proper education about avoiding inciting factors.
- Wrist sprain: Sometimes people fall, and they neglect to do anything about it, but after a while the pain doesn’t go away. In many cases, people don’t connect that fall to their wrist pain, and assume they have carpal tunnel syndrome, which they may have, but it is not the major cause of their pain. Most often, hand surgeons are the only who can put the pieces of the puzzle together, and develop a treatment plan. The TFCC is a common causes of hand pain, but it isn’t the only one. In fact, for ulnar sided wrist pain (that is pain by the pinky side of your wrist), there can be in excess of 30 conditions which can cause hand pain–some of which are progressive and debilitating, and require rather complex surgery to treat effectively.
- Overuse: We all tend to forget that our modern society often forces our body to act in ways that it was not intended to act. For instance, me writing in front of the computer! That being said, it is hard to avoid many of things that make modern life what it is, texting, Wii, Playstation, screen-time in front of the computer, etc. are all hard to avoid. But if you can, take a break. Smell the roses. Avoid excessive technology when you can. It will give your hands and your mind the rest it needs.