Your hands can perform many tasks – as big as gripping and carrying large objects and as fine as buttoning your shirt or typing. In order for the hands to have such versatility and dexterity, they are very complex: Each hand is composed of 27 bones, 27 joints, 34 muscles, and more than 100 ligaments and tendons. With such complexity, there is plenty of room for things to go wrong.
If you feel that your hand is aching and a bit stiff after work, you are not alone. Hand pain is a very common issue, and some experts estimate that it affects close to half of the adult population in the U.S.
What Causes Hand Pain?
Hand pain is often accompanied by stiffness, soreness, or numbness in the hand. The nature and severity of the pain depend on the cause.
Common causes of hand pain include the following:
This happens due to repetitive or forceful movement patterns, prolonged muscle contraction, muscle strain, or awkward postures. Occupations with a high risk for occupational overuse leading to hand pain include:
- Office work (e.g., typing)
- Heavy labor (lifting, pushing, or pulling heavy objects)
- Fine handwork (e.g., sewing)
- Repetitive movement patterns (e.g., playing a musical instrument or playing a sport)
- Process work (e.g., assembly lines and checkouts)
Symptoms of occupational overuse develop gradually. These symptoms include:
- Muscle soreness and discomfort
- Aching pain in the joints
- Muscle spasms
- Limitation of movement
Overuse injuries can occur as a result of performing repetitive tasks or activities, as the muscles don’t get enough time to rest and recover. Causes of overuse injury can include:
- Constricted posture for long periods of time
- Repetitive movements without taking adequate breaks
- Prolonged muscle contraction
- Poor ergonomics
- Excessive workload
Being one of the most common joint problems, with about 60 million adults in the U.S. suffering from it, arthritis is joint inflammation. Some types of arthritis also spread to other tissues and organs in the body.
There are more than 100 types of arthritis, with varying symptoms and severity. However, they all share some symptoms in common, and these include:
- Joint pain
- Limitation of the joint function
Causes of arthritis vary according to type. The following are the most commonly reported types of arthritis:
- Osteoarthritis – caused by wear-and-tear of the joint cartilage
- Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the synovial joint lining; being rheumatic, it can spread to the organs
- Gout – caused by increased uric acid levels in the bloodstream; it usually affects the big toe and can be alleviated by drinking plenty of water
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The carpal tunnel is an anatomical passageway in the wrist where the median nerve passes through the carpal (wrist) bones. This nerve serves the hand and fingers except for the pinkie.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is when this passage is obstructed or compressed, causing constant pressure against the median nerve. This is a type of pinched nerve.
Carpal tunnel syndrome leads to:
- A feeling of numbness, pain, and/or tingling in the affected hand (it can affect everything except the pinkie, which is served by the ulnar nerve, not the median nerve)
- Pain in the hand which might travel up your arm
- A feeling of weakness, and frequently dropping objects
The compression that causes carpal tunnel syndrome can be due to:
- Repetitive hand movements (e.g., typing or using a mouse)
- Repetitive grasping movements (e.g., sports, painting, cooking)
- Poor ergonomics
- Hormonal changes or pregnancy
- Wrist injuries such as sprains, strains, or dislocations
Tendonitis is an inflammatory condition affecting one or more tendons, which are the fibrous tissues attaching a muscle to a bone. This condition can usually be pinpointed to the area where the affected tendon attaches to a bone.
Symptoms of tendonitis in the hand include:
- Pain, especially upon movement of the affected joint
- A grating feeling (friction) when moving the joint
Tendonitis is usually caused by:
- Repetitive tasks (scrubbing, typing, etc.)
- Poor posture
- Poor workplace ergonomics
- Direct physical injury
Hand Experts in North Dakota
Hand pain can make the easiest, most casual activities very challenging. Here at The Bone & Joint Center, our board-certified, highly trained medical team is here to give your hands a helping hand! Our staff can help diagnose and treat your condition, giving you your healthy, pain-free, functioning hands back again.
You can contact our friendly team today at (800) 424-2663, or you can fill out our online form to request an appointment. We look forward to serving you!