Swollen Hands Causes: Frostbite, Nephrotic Syndrome & More

Understand your swollen hands symptoms, including 9 causes & treatment options for your swollen hands.

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  1. 9 Possible Swollen Hands Causes
  2. Real-Life Stories
  3. FAQs
  4. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  5. Statistics
  6. Related Articles

9 Possible Swollen Hands Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced swollen hands. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a condition which causes inflammation of the joints. In most circumstances, psoriatic arthritis presents between the ages of 30 and 50 years and occurs after the manifestation of the symptoms of psoriasis, which is a disease of the skin. Psoriatic arthritis...

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Angioedema is a condition which can cause swelling and puffiness of the face, mouth, tongue, hand or genitals. It is often related to an allergic reaction to food, medicines or insect bites.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: nausea or vomiting, abdominal cramps (stomach cramps), diarrhea, swollen face, hand swelling

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis is a general term for multiple conditions that cause painful inflammation and stiffness throughout the body. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition that is autoimmune in nature, meaning that the body's immune system which normally protects the body by att...

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Dupuytren disease

Dupuytren Disease, also known as Dupuytren's contracture, is a condition that gradually causes connective tissue (fascia) under the skin of the palm to thicken and become scar-like. Although Dupuytren's isn't painful, it does restrict movement. The thickened tissue forces several fingers - usually the ring and pinky fingers - to curl in toward the palm.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: finger joint stiffness, hand bump, thickened skin on the finger, swollen hands, hand injury

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Swollen Hands Symptom Checker

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Hand bone infection (osteomyelitis)

Osteomyelitis of the hand is a bacterial or fungal infection of the hand bones, typically caused by Staph Aureus (40-50% of the time). It is difficult to diagnose as the infection can come from a break in the skin at the area or anywhere else in the body that spreads by blood.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: moderate fever, spontaneous hand pain, constant hand pain, warm and red hand swelling, painful surgical site

Symptoms that always occur with hand bone infection (osteomyelitis): spontaneous hand pain, constant hand pain

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

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.

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

Nephrotic syndrome

Nephrotic syndrome is a disorder of the kidneys that results in too much protein excreted into your urine. It is usually associated with damaged kidneys specifically damage to the kidneys' filters, called glomeruli.

Kidney damage and nephrotic syndrome primarily include albuminur...

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Bruised hand

A bruise occurs when small blood vessels break and leak their contents into the soft tissue beneath the skin, which causes the purple color of the bruise.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: hand injury, hand pain from an injury, pain in one hand, swelling of one hand, palm bruise

Symptoms that always occur with bruised hand: hand injury, hand pain from an injury

Urgency: Self-treatment

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.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: hand numbness, hand pain, hand redness, cold hands, cold fingers

Symptoms that always occur with frostnip of the upper limbs: cold fingers

Urgency: In-person visit

Real-life Stories

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FAQs About Swollen Hands

Here are some frequently asked questions about swollen hands.

Why does my hand keep swelling up?

Continued hand swelling can be caused by repeated injuries including sprains, small fractures, as well as eating too much salt and thus retaining fluid. Additionally, arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome can cause hand swelling. Arthritis can cause swelling, particularly of the joints. Osteoarthritis can cause swelling routinely during the day in the hands and the wrists.

Why do my hands go numb and swell?

Hand numbness and swelling can be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused when swelling compresses the median nerve and impacts the first three fingers on each affected hand. Swelling can further compress the nerve and cause not only a lack of sensation but also pins and needles. Additionally, in severe cases, hand motion can be affected.

Why is my finger swelling for no reason?

Finger swelling doesn't often occur with no underlying cause. Swelling of the finger can be caused by spondyloarthritis, an inflammatory disease that more commonly affects the spine. It can also be caused by sickle cell disease in which blood cells clump, making them unable to flow out causing swollen fingers. Fingers may also swell as part of generalized body swelling or edema.

Can arthritis cause swollen hands?

Yes, arthritis can cause hand swelling in the fingers and the wrists. Arthritis often first causes swelling of the joints of the fingers. Which joint swells depends on the type of arthritis and the cause of the type of arthritis. Generally, hand swelling fluctuates during the day. While swelling may be present to some degree all day, swelling often changes throughout the day.

Why are my hands suddenly swollen?

Hands swell suddenly for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons for hand swelling is trauma to the hand. It can cause both local and general hand swelling, depending on the location and force of the trauma. Other causes include infections of the hands, as well as flares of inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or gout. Hands may also swell as part of generalized body swelling or edema. Sudden hand swelling should be evaluated by a medical professional.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Swollen Hands

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Did you recently injure your hand or fingers?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with diabetes?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with cancer?
  • Do you have these contractures that limit the movement of your fingers? (See picture)

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Swollen Hands Symptom Checker

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Swollen Hands Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced swollen hands have also experienced:

  • 5% Thumb Pain
  • 5% Hand Pain
  • 4% Hand Tingling

People who have experienced swollen hands were most often matched with:

  • 50% Angioedema
  • 25% Psoriatic Arthritis
  • 25% Rheumatoid Arthritis

People who have experienced swollen hands had symptoms persist for:

  • 37% Less than a day
  • 35% Less than a week
  • 13% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

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