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Learn about your hand pain, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your hand pain from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Hand Pain Checker

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Your Hand Pain May Also be Known as:
Aches and pains in arm
Aches and pains in hand
Arm ache
Arm discomfort
Arm hurts
Arm is painful
Arm pain
Arm soreness
Hand ache
Hand discomfort

Hand Pain Symptoms

Did you feel discomfort as you typed in our web address? What about when you just tried to pick up your drink? If so, you are likely suffering from hand pain. The hands are intricate parts of our daily life and, when they hurt, even the simplest tasks can become difficult. Without even noticing, your hands are subjected to frequent stresses and strains throughout the day.

Hand pain can range from minor discomfort to crippling and is demonstrated by the following hand pain symptoms:

  • Burning, tingling, and/or itching

  • Stiffness

  • Swelling

  • Reduced strength

  • Bruising or discoloration

  • Misalignment of fingers

Our hands are a complex collection of nineteen bones, fifteen joints, three nerves, and many muscles and ligaments. Bones form the hardened infrastructure of the hand while ligaments hold the bones together and keep them in place. Working in concert, these components come together to allow the hand to perform highly skilled operations. Each one of these components is susceptible to bangs, bruises, aches, and strains.

Hand pain symptoms can be from something benign like a small bruise but can also be indicative of a range of disorders and diseases that can target any part of the hand.

Hand Pain Causes Overview

"Hand pain" is such an all-encompassing phrase that deciphering the cause can be critical in determining the treatment. Pain can result from everyday accidents or be the product of a variety of syndromes and disorders. Common hand pain causes include:

Environmental hand pain causes:

  • Trauma: Bruises, sprains, dislocations, and breaks occur when the hand and/or fingers are struck and damaged. Repetitive actions can lead to undue stress on the joints and muscles. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a product of repetitive hand motions.

Inflammatory hand pain causes:

  • Autoimmune: Several diseases cause joints to inflame. Arthritis, for example, which causes joint inflammation, is a leading cause of hand pain. Several types of arthritis, including rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, typically affect the hand, each causing pain in different joints and tendons.
  • Infections: Bacterial infections can spread through the bloodstream and affect the joints of the hand. Infectious, or septic arthritis, is an example of such a condition.

Systemic disease hand pain causes:

  • Metabolic: The body's normal function is disrupted by metabolic diseases causing pain. Thickening of tissue and swelling of the tendons can occur from diseases such as Dupuytren's Contracture and DeQuervain's Disease.
  • Tumors: Growths, both cancerous and noncancerous, can affect all components of the hand, compressing nerves and causing pain.

Top 8 Hand Pain Causes

  1. 1.Irritant Contact Dermatitis

    Contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin becomes red, sore, or inflamed after direct contact with a substance. This condition most often affects skin of the hands, and may occur after repeated and prolonged exposure to substances such as water, detergents (soaps, bleach), solvents (gasoline), acids, powders, dust, and soil. The onset of the skin reaction is usually within 48 hours of contact with the substance.

    You can safely treat this condition on your own. The main treatment for this disease is to avoid the substance that triggers the skin inflammation. Moisturizer can also be helpful to provide relief for your inflamed skin.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    hand pain, facial skin changes, hand skin changes, hand redness, rash on the outer part of the finger
    Symptoms that always occur with irritant contact dermatitis:
    hand redness
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  2. 2.Cellulitis

    Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and tissues underneath it. It is most commonly caused by Group A strep and typically enters the body through a break in the skin.

    You should go to your primary care doctor tomorrow. There, he or she will inspect your skin and determine if antibiotics are necessary.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, hand redness, hand pain, painful hand swelling, hand injury
    Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis:
    hand redness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Friction Blister on the Hand

    Friction blisters are very common and occur when fluid accumulates beneath the outer layer of the skin. They’re caused by friction from carrying heavy objects or repetitive use.

    Friction blisters will heal on their own, however they can become infected if not properly cleaned. Soap and water followed by topical antibiotic cream (e.g., Neosporin) will help prevent infection. Additionally, a bandage will both keep the blister clean and help with discomfort.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    hand pain, blister on the hand, blister caused by friction, constant skin changes, rash
    Symptoms that always occur with friction blister on the hand:
    blister caused by friction, blister on the hand
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  4. 4.Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers. RA is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that it is caused by the immune system incorrectly attacking the joints when it shouldn't.

    You should visit your primary care physician who will coordinate care with a specialist. RA is a complex disease, which can require prescription medication to help slow down the damage to your joints, as well as pain killers such as ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Anaprox and Naprosyn). Exercise, especially swimming, can also help with pain and stiffness.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, muscle aches, joint pain, daytime sleepiness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Hand Pain Checker

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  5. 5.Severe Frostbite of the Upper Limbs

    Frostbite is tissue damage caused by exposure to the cold (at or below 32F or 0C). It is most commonly found in people doing leisurely activities like camping, hunting, or snow sports. It is also more likely in those who are intoxicated or have a mental disorder.

    Those with suspected frostbite should have wet clothing removed. Rubbing affected areas worsens damage to the tissue. You should go to the ER by car, immediately. If rewarming can occur without chance of refreezing, it can be tried in the field. There, the doctors will guide you in gently re-warming the wounded area in 98-102F (37C-39C) water. Further, ibuprofen, antibiotics, a tetanus shot, and possibly surgery will be done to treat the pain and dead tissue. IV fluids will also be started. Hydrotherapy will be done daily to help with the wounded area.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    hand numbness, hand pain, swollen finger, hand redness, cold fingers
    Symptoms that always occur with severe frostbite of the upper limbs:
    cold fingers
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  6. 6.Mild Frostbite of the Upper Limbs

    Frostbite is tissue damage caused by exposure to the cold (at or below 32F or 0C). It is most commonly found in people doing leisurely activities like camping, hunting, or snow sports. It is also more likely in those who are intoxicated or have a mental disorder.

    Those with suspected frostbite should have wet clothing removed. Rubbing affected areas worsens damage to the tissue. You should go to the ER by car, immediately. If rewarming can occur without chance of refreezing, it can be tried in the field. There, the doctors will guide you in gently re-warming the wounded area in 98-102F (37C-39C) water. Further, ibuprofen, antibiotics, a tetanus shot, and possibly surgery will be done to treat the pain and dead tissue. IV fluids will also be started. Hydrotherapy will be done daily to help with the wounded area.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    hand numbness, hand pain, hand redness, cold fingers, cold hands
    Symptoms that always occur with mild frostbite of the upper limbs:
    cold fingers
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  7. 7.Frostnip of the Upper Limbs

    Frostnip is damage of the outermost layers of the skin caused by exposure to the cold (at or below 32F or 0C). It is most commonly found in people doing leisurely activities like camping, hunting, or snow sports.

    Those with suspected frostnip should have wet clothing removed. Rubbing affected areas worsens damage to the tissue. You should go to an urgent care. If rewarming can occur without chance of refreezing, it can be tried in the field. At urgent care, the doctors will guide you in gently re-warming the wounded area in 98-102F (37C-39C) water. Further, ibuprofen, antibiotics, and a tetanus shot may be necessary

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    hand numbness, hand pain, hand redness, cold fingers, cold hands
    Symptoms that always occur with frostnip of the upper limbs:
    cold fingers
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  8. 8.Diabetic Neuropathy

    Diabetic neuropathy is a condition where pain, numbness, weakness, and motor loss occur in the limbs due to the effects of diabetes on the nerves.

    You should visit your primary care physician when convenient, a diagnosis can be made with testing. If diagnosed, your physician can create a treatment plan to manage the pain and motor restrictions that come with this condition.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, anxiety, depressed mood, trouble sleeping, diarrhea
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Hand Pain Treatments and Relief

Left untreated, persistent hand pain symptoms can lead to surgery. Conversely, minor pain may be treated at home. Pain relief may be achievable, but the underlying cause could be something that requires attention from a doctor.

It is advisable to schedule an appointment with your doctor for any of the following hand pain symptoms:

  • Hand pain accompanied by fever and signs of infection especially following a puncture wound
  • Inability to move or bend fingers or wrist
  • Pain that does not improve over several weeks

Hand pain symptoms can be debilitating and greatly impact your daily life. Several steps can be taken to treat the pain, particularly if you have a known condition like arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome:

At-home hand pain treatments:

  • Immobilization: Limiting the use of the affected areas by employing splints or braces provides support to the wrist or fingers, which, in turn, helps relieve pain.
  • Rest and ice: Sometimes the simplest treatment is an ideal home remedy for minor traumatic hand pain symptoms. Ice applied for approximately 15-20 minutes throughout the day will help reduce swelling. It is often easier said than done to rest your hands but doing so allows time to heal.
  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil, or Tylenol help reduce inflammation and pain.

Professional hand pain treatments:

  • Prescription Medications: Your doctor may prescribe pain medications for advanced hand pain. Corticosteroids can be taken orally or injected to control inflammation.
  • Surgery: Procedures of varying degrees may be required to repair damaged bones or ligaments. Arthroscopic or minimally invasive surgical techniques are sometimes used for arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapists can develop programs to help strengthen muscles and tendons. Qualified doctors and physical therapists will recommend specific exercises to lessen the strain on joints and reduce hand pain symptoms.

Hands are critical components in both our work and personal lives. Everything from typing a report to picking up our children to preparing a meal relies on our hands. It can be debilitating when our hands hurt, but, by exercising preventative measures and seeking appropriate treatment, the hand pain symptoms can often be managed.

FAQs About Hand Pain

Here are some frequently asked questions about hand pain.

Is left hand pain a symptom of a heart attack?

Typically, left arm pain can be a symptom of a heart attack. It is, however, not the only sign of a heart attack, and most cases of pain in the left hand are from some other cause — most commonly, trauma. Other signs of heart attack include chest pain, jaw pain, numbness, nausea, difficulty breathing, and dizziness. If you know you are at risk for a heart attack and suspect a heart attack is occuring, you should seek urgent evaluation in the nearest medical center and call 911.

Where is the pain located in carpal tunnel?

Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause numbness and burning, particularly within the distribution of the median nerve. This includes the thumb, forefinger, middle finger and thumb half of the ring finger as well as the palm. Other areas that may be affected include the wrist, forearm, and less commonly the upper arm and the shoulder. The neck is never affected.

Can diabetes cause hand pain?

Yes, diabetes can cause an increased chance of carpal tunnel syndrome. This is usually associated with the duration of diabetes. Diabetes can also cause a neuropathy, which more commonly manifests in the lower limbs that causes a painful burning sensation. Diabetes can also cause "complex regional pain syndrome," or reflex sympathetic dystrophy, which is characterized by severe pain or burning sensation.

What does rheumatoid arthritis feel like in your hands?

Usually, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) involves morning stiffness of multiple joints, including the first and second joints of the hand (MCP and PIP). It may also affect elbows, knees, shoulders, and ankles. It is most commonly associated with stiffness in the morning in conjunction with pain. Generally, the pain in the hands (which is commonly an ache or a burn) may improve with time.

Why are my hands numb?

Numbness in the hands can come from a variety of causes. Some the most common are exposure to a cold environment. Blood vessels in the hands tend to constrict and allow less blood to conserve heat in cold environments. This decrease in blood flow couples with the fact that nervous impulses travel more slowly, which leads to decreased sensation and numbness. Any disorder that affects the nerves that carry sensation too or from the hands can cause numbness. The most common of these is carpal tunnel syndrome.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Hand Pain

  • Q.Is the hand pain affecting:
  • Q.How long has your shoulder pain been going on?
  • Q.How severe is your shoulder pain?
  • Q.Is your upper arm pain constant or come-and-go?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our hand pain symptom checker.

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Hand Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced hand pain have also experienced:

    • 9% Pain in the Upper Arm
    • 9% Forearm Pain
    • 9% Shoulder Pain
  • People who have experienced hand pain had symptoms persist for:

    • 100% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced hand pain were most often matched with:

    • 3% Cellulitis
    • 1% Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Hand Pain Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having hand pain.

Take a quiz