Read below about hand weakness, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your hand weakness 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.

A.I. Health Assistant

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

Take Quiz

Hand Weakness Symptoms

Does it seem like carrying your laptop bag used to be easier? Maybe your handshake grip used to be firmer? If the answer to those questions is yes, then you could be experiencing hand weakness. The ability to perform many everyday tasks is reliant on the power of our hands.

Weakness does not necessarily signal the presence of pain, but there is the possibility of several common symptoms that coincide with weakness.

Hand weakness symptoms include:

  • Weak grip

  • Inability to carry otherwise manageable items

  • Numbness

  • Hand pain

  • Clumsiness using the hands

  • Hand fatigue

Between all the bones, joints, nerves, muscles, and ligaments, there is a lot of complexity in hands. The capabilities of the hand are also greatly influenced by connections to the arm and shoulder. The complexity of the hand allows it to do amazing things but also leaves it prone to issues. Our hands can also get rigorously tested throughout the day, resulting in even further health challenges.

Many medical professionals analyze grip strength when assessing overall health. If the hands are weak, then there is the possibility that other, more serious, problems exist with overall health.

Hand Weakness Causes Overview

We all experience weakness at one point or another. The cause may simply be fatigue from over-exertion or maybe the battle against a disease leaves us debilitated. Hand weakness, while far more localized than whole body issues, is no different. The causes can vary in severity and commonly include:

Environmental causes:

  • Trauma: Excessive, repetitive use of the hands can result in damage to the nerves reduced function and weakness. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a product of repetitive hand motions. Varying types of palsy's resulting from nerve damage also cause hand weakness. Similarly, direct trauma to the hand can cause weakness through damage to bones, muscles, and ligaments.

Inflammatory causes:

  • Autoimmune: Joint inflammation is often caused by disease. Arthritis, for example, is a well know perpetrator of hand weakness through joint and soft tissue inflammation. Several types of arthritis, including rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, typically affect the hand and cause weakness.
  • Cardiovascular: Issues with the cardiovascular system can lead to inflammation throughout the body, including the hands, and subsequently, weakness.

Systemic disease causes:

  • Neuron Syndromes: Motor control capabilities are dictated by neurons. Hand weakness ensues when a variety of syndromes affect these neurons.

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Hand Weakness

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced hand weakness. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway filled with ligament and bones at the base of your hand. It contains nerve and tendons. Sometimes, thickening from irritated tendons or other swelling narrows the tunnel and causes the nerve to be compressed. Symptoms usually start gradually, and as they worsen, grasping objects can become difficult.

    Recovery time varies depending on treatment.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    spontaneous shoulder pain, hand weakness, wrist pain, weakness in one hand, pain in both hands
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Ulnar Nerve Entrapment of Elbow

    Ulnar Nerve Entrapment of Elbow is the compression of the ulnar nerve, causing numbness and/or weakness in the hands.

    Mild symptoms resolve on their own, severe disease resolves with surgery

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    hand weakness, weakness in one hand, numbness in one hand, pain in one elbow, pain in one forearm
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.De Quervain's Tenosynovitis

    De Quervain's tenosynovitis is a painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. If you have de Quervain's tenosynovitis, you will feel pain upon turning your wrist, grasping anything, or making a fist.

    4-6 weeks with treatment

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    hand numbness, thumb pain, hand weakness, weakness in one hand, numbness in one hand
    Symptoms that always occur with de quervain's tenosynovitis:
    thumb pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

    Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) is soreness or pain on the outside of the upper arm near the elbow.

    2-3 weeks and up to 12 months

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    elbow pain, pain in one elbow, hand weakness, pain in the thumb side of the elbow, elbow pain from overuse
    Symptoms that always occur with tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis):
    elbow pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

    Hand Weakness Checker

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

    Take Quiz
  5. 5.Repetitive Strain Injury of the Hand

    Repetitive strain injury of the hand is caused by consistent repetitive use.

    Resolves with rest

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    hand numbness, hand weakness, hand pain from overuse
    Symptoms that always occur with repetitive strain injury of the hand:
    hand pain from overuse
    Symptoms that never occur with repetitive strain injury of the hand:
    hand injury, severe hand pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  6. 6.Golfer's Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)

    Medial epicondylitis (Golfer's Elbow) is similar to it's opposite cousin (Lateral Epicondylitis- Tennis Elbow). Both are caused by the overuse of the elbow, but this one is more frequent in golfers, bowlers, archers, and weight lifters.

    6-12 months depending on rest

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    elbow pain, pain in one elbow, elbow pain from overuse, pain in the pinky side of the elbow
    Symptoms that always occur with golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis):
    elbow pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  7. 7.Wrist Bone (Scaphoid) Fracture

    A fracture is the medical term for a broken bone. When a person falls on their outstretched hand, the scaphoid is the bone that is most likely to break. It is located on the thumb side of the wrist, in the area where the wrist bends.

    Wrist bone fractures take about 10-16 weeks to heal.

    Rarity:
    Ultra rare
    Top Symptoms:
    hand weakness, swollen thumb, wrist pain that gets worse when gripping something, difficulty moving the thumb, wrist pain from an injury
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Kienbock Disease

    Kienbock Disease is a condition where the blood going to one of the small bones in the wrist is disrupted, causing the bone to die and the wrist to become stiff and painful. The cause is not known but may be related to trauma to the wrist.

    Life long, the wrist is damaged permanently

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    hand weakness, pain in the back of the wrist, wrist pain from an injury, wrist pain that gets worse when gripping something, difficulty moving the wrist
    Symptoms that always occur with kienbock disease:
    wrist pain from an injury, pain in the back of the wrist
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Becker Muscular Dystrophy

    Becker muscular dystrophy is an inherited disorder that involves slowly worsening muscle weakness of the legs and pelvis

    This genetic disorder is considered irreversible, but symptoms can be effectively managed with treatment

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, severe fatigue, muscle aches, general weakness, decreased exercise tolerance
    Symptoms that always occur with becker muscular dystrophy:
    weakness, weakness of both legs
    Symptoms that never occur with becker muscular dystrophy:
    face weakness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Hand Weakness Treatments and Relief

New hand weakness should not be ignored. The treatment may be as easy as a rest and recovery period or could involve advanced medical procedures.

It is always recommended that a medical professional is contacted if any of the following are experienced:

  • Persistent weakness accompanied by pain
  • Inability to move or bend fingers or wrist
  • Involuntary muscle contractions
  • Associated hand clumsiness or abnormal sensation

At-home treatments:

  • Immobilization: Simply limiting the use of the affected hand can help build strength. Splints and braces can help provide stability and promote improved functionality.
  • Exercise: Basic exercises for the hand can help restore strength and encourage recovery from injury.
  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Tylenol (acetaminophen) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil may help reduce hand weakness symptoms caused by inflammation or pain.

Professional treatments:

  • Prescription Medications: Advanced cases of inflammation may require your doctor to prescribe pain medications for advanced pain. Corticosteroids can be taken orally or injected to control inflammation.
  • Surgery: Procedures of varying degrees, such as tendon transfers, may be required to fully restore strength in significant cases.
  • Physical therapy: Licensed physical therapists can develop programs to help strengthen muscles and tendons. A diagnosis from a doctor followed by a program developed by a licensed physical therapist to treat the specific cause of your hand weakness symptoms will further encourage improved strength.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Hand Weakness

  • Q.What is your body mass?
  • Q.Have someone feel for your pulse (at the wrist) on the side of your body that hurts. Now, turn your head to that side. Does the pulse go away? (This is known as the Adson's test.)
  • Q.Turn your head toward the side of your body that is hurting. Lift your head up as someone else pushes down on your head. Does this cause greater pain in your upper body? (This is known as Spurling's test.)
  • Q.Lightly tap on your inner wrist. Does this cause your symptoms to reappear?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our hand weakness symptom checker to find out more.

Take Quiz

Hand Weakness Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced hand weakness have also experienced:

    • 6% Forearm Weakness
    • 6% Upper Arm Weakness
    • 5% Wrist Weakness
  • People who have experienced hand weakness had symptoms persist for:

    • 37% Over a Month
    • 24% Less Than a Day
    • 21% Less Than a Week
  • People who have experienced hand weakness were most often matched with:

    • 33% Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
    • 33% Ulnar Nerve Entrapment of Elbow
    • 33% De Quervain's Tenosynovitis
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

A.I. Health Assistant

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

Take Quiz