Do you have aching wrists and fingers? Do your wrists and fingers hurt? Does this discomfort bother you? Do you want to read more about it’s causes and management? Then keep reading in this article I have explained everything related to this.
Most cases of wrist and finger ache or pain will not be a sign of a serious or long-term problem and will settle in a few days or weeks with some simple self-care one can do at home. Most common causes of aching wrists and fingers are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, gout etc.
There are several conditions that can cause ache in wrists and fingers . There are 27 bones which are small that make up each hand and wrist.
Eight of them are in the wrist. For each finger we have three bones, and for thumb we have two. There are five bones in the palm , which connects each finger and the thumb with the wrist. At least more than 30 muscles are present that control the fingers and wrist which are present in hands, wrists and forearms
What are the causes of Aching wrists and fingers?
There are a number of conditions which can cause aching wrist and fingers few of them are explained below:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when there’s too much pressure on the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel. This can lead to tingling, numbness and pain, mainly in the hand and fingers. It may also cause similar symptoms in wrist and forearm. Usually the symptoms become worse at night. This syndrome can go away in a few weeks or it could take months. Using a splint can help with pain or even having a steroid injection .
If symptoms don’t go away after a few days , a minor operation to relieve the pressure on median nerve can solve the problem.
- De Quervain’s tendinopathy
Tendons in the hand and wrist can develop some issue .Tendons have a protective covering over them, with synovial fluid inside. This thick synovial fluid protects the tendon from any injuries and allows it to move freely in an easy way.
Sometimes tendinitis can happen that is tendon or tendon sheaths become inflamed, which can lead to pain, swelling and stiffness and is called tendinopathy. It can happen due to overuse of tendons example after playing a lot of sports.
Even arthritis can lead to tendinopathy, and in some rare cases so can an infection. De Quervain’s (Dey kwer-veins) tendinopathy is a very common condition which can affect tendons in the wrist, causing pain around the wrist and sometimes at the base of the thumb. Pain mostly eases with rest and can get worse with the activity.
Applying ice wrapped in a wet or damp towel or even taking an NSAID can help. If the condition doesn’t improve and is affecting quality of life, other things can be considered like steroid injections, splints, hand therapy or surgery might also be helpful.
- Trigger finger
Trigger finger is a condition in which one cannot straighten a finger properly. One might even need to use the other hand to straighten it.
Sometimes, a finger may become too painful to straighten and may stay stuck in same position. Trigger finger mostly affects the thumb, ring and the middle finger. Even more than one finger can be affected at the same time.
The affected finger may swell, which can be very painful. Especially in the morning there can be a clicking or popping sensation from the finger, which is thought to be caused by swelling of a tendon or tendon covering. Sometimes this swelling can lead to nodules formation. Trigger finger can even happen to healthy people for no evident reason. It’s commonly seen in women over the age of 40.
It’s more likely to happen if one had a previous injury to the palm of the hand. Other medical conditions like diabetes, gout, rheumatoid arthritis can also increase risk of getting it. It can get better without the treatment. For pain NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, may help. If in case it doesn’t get better on its own or isn’t treated right , it’s possible that affected thumb or finger to become permanently bent. Treatment involves steroid injections, but in some cases, a small operation can be carried out.
Gout is a condition caused by a build-up of uric acid in the body . Uric acid is a chemical produced when your body breaks down foods that contain organic compounds called purines it is where uric acid comes from.
Mostly uric acid is dissolved in the blood and removed from the body via urination. In some cases, the body produces too much uric acid somehow which can be deposited in the joints, resulting in pain and swelling. This pain mostly occurs in the knees, ankles, wrists, fingers and feet.
Osteoarthritis is the one of the most common type of arthritis, which can affect fingers and wrists, particularly the joints located at the ends of the fingers or at the base of the thumb.
It can cause pain and stiffness, and make it difficult to use hands and wrists in a proper manner. It can lead to bony lumps to develop on the hands, particularly on the fingers.
Taking over the counter painkillers, such as paracetamol, or NSAIDs like ibuprofen can help to ease pain . There is a cream called Capsaicin cream, which is made from extracts of chilli plants, it has helped some people who have osteoarthritis of the hand. It may help in blocking pain messages sent to nerves. In some cases, if symptoms don’t improve by treatment then surgery might be only option.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
This is an autoimmune condition which is responsible for inflammation of joints. This condition can sometimes start with hands and wrists, with symptoms of severe pain, swelling and stiffness. This is often gets worse in the morning. The stiffness may last for more than half an hour and tends not to ease with the movement. Joints may feel warm, sometimes be red. It can affect both hands and wrists in the same way .
The symptoms may start slowly. This is an not that common condition in the general population. There are many drugs which can treat the underlying cause of rheumatoid arthritis, and can help to prevent damage to joints. Soon the treatment is started, the more helpful and effective it will be.
- Hand-arm vibration syndrome
A condition called hand-arm vibration syndrome can affect people who regularly use vibrating tools or who have used vibrating tools and machinery over a period of around 10 years , they can be pneumatic drills, power drills and chainsaws.
The most early symptoms are loss of feeling, numbness and pins and needles in the fingers. Symptoms can be mild, and only affect the ends of the fingers or can be severe might cause whole fingers to go numb. In some people this can make tasks like doing up buttons and picking up small objects like coins difficult. It’s thought that it is caused by repeated minor injuries to small nerves and vessels in the fingers. Hand-arm vibration syndrome can cause another condition called Raynaud’s phenomenon.
- Raynaud’s phenomenon
Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition which causes a reduction in blood supply to the outer parts of body, including the fingers. It may occur in the cold or in stressful situations. It can also happen as a result of using hand-held vibrating tools. During an attack of Raynaud’s, the fingers can change colour can first go white or may look waxy, then can go blue, and possibly even purple or black in much severe cases. They are then likely to get red, can be aching , painful, tingly and numb when the blood rushes back.
When to see a doctor for Aching wrists and fingers?
This pain mostly goes away with home treatment and rest but if it doesn’t do visit a doctor.
Visit a physician if ;
- Pain isn’t getting better after treatment for two weeks
- If the pain keeps getting bad each day.
- The pain keeps returning.
- The pain is stopping one from doing everyday activities.
- Hands are stiff and swollen, especially in the mornings and these don’t get better after half an hour.
- One also feels generally unwell, especially with high temperature
- One has ongoing tingling, numbness or weakness in the hands or fingers.
- You’ve broken a bone.
- Extreme pain is present.
- Any part of hand, wrist or fingers shape or colour has changed
- the feeling of part or all of hand is lost.
- there was a snap, grinding or popping noise when injury happened to hand or wrist.
- can’t move hand, wrist or fingers properly.
- One has ongoing hand and wrist pain or a specific condition affecting the hand and wrist .
How to diagnosis Aching wrists and fingers?
- To diagnose problem in hand and wrist a doctor, or possibly a specialised physiotherapist, will want to hear about what symptoms person had and how long one had them. They will examine the hand and wrist, and can check range of movement, feeling and strength.
- One might be asked to have blood tests i.e CBC to look for inflammation.
- Few imaging tests like X-rays, ultrasound scans, computerised tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are sometimes used to help doctors have a closer look at what’s happening or what’s wrong inside hand and wrist.
What is the treatment for Aching wrists and fingers?
Treatment options for wrist and finger ache can vary depending on the cause.
Following are few treatment options :
- applying hot or cold compresses for 10 to 20 minutes to affected area.
- having surgery to repair the median nerve, in severe cases of carpel tunnel syndrome.
- wearing a wrist splint can help .
- resting wrist and hand.
- taking a mild pain killer, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- placing an ice pack on the painful area for several minutes to reduce the swelling and pain can help