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Pain Management Health Center

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Hand Pain Causes

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Common treatments include:

Surgery may be suggested if symptoms persist for six months or more.

Fractures. A fracture, or a break in a bone, can cause a great deal of hand pain. Besides pain, after a fracture you may have:

  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Loss of movement

If you have fractured a finger, for example, you may be unable to move it fully. You might also notice that the injured finger is swollen and in some cases slightly shorter than normal.

There are several types of fractures:

  • Simple
  • Complex
  • Comminuted
  • Compound

In simple fractures, the broken bone is aligned and stable. In more complex fractures, the break may cause the bone to shift or become displaced, making treatment more difficult. In comminuted fractures, bones are broken in more than one place. Compound fractures are fractures in which the broken bone breaks through the skin.

How a fracture is treated depends on the type of the break. Casts or splints are often used for simple breaks. Pins, wires, or plates may be needed to treat more complicated fractures. Surgery might also be necessary to fully set the broken bone.

Arthritis. This is a leading source of hand pain. Arthritis causes joints to lose the cartilage that allows them to move smoothly against each other. As the cartilage deteriorates, painful, sometimes debilitating swelling begins to occur.

In the hand, the areas where this most often occurs are the:

  • Base of the thumb
  • Middle joint of one or more fingers
  • End joint, which is closest to the finger tip

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It causes progressive degeneration of cartilage.

Osteoarthritis can occur with aging or following an injury, such as a fracture or dislocation. When it affects the hand, it causes:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness

Bony nodules may also form at the middle or end joints of the fingers. Osteoarthritis can also cause deep, aching pain at the base of the thumb. The hand may also become weaker, making everyday activities difficult.

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