The hand is a very complex structure and some medical practitioners only specialise in treating hand injuries. Hand pain can be described as any pain extending from your wrist to the base of your fingers, and for this purpose be divided between the palm and the back of your hand. To establish where exactly your hand pain is coming from it can be very helpful identifying what structure is causing your pain. Hands are our field of specialty, we are the experts. Your hand is complex due to its small size, and close proximity of these small structures.
Hand pain is usually more promenant in the dominant hand. This means that if you write with your right hand you will likely have pain in your right hand. Simmilarly when you write with your left hand, you will more likely develop pain in your left hand. The dominant hand is more vulnerable to pain and injuries as it is the prefered first contact.
Any pain or problem in your hand will have a ripple effect on your fingers, wrist and elbow. So if you are uncertain what the cause may be, rather let us have a look at it before you cause even more problems. Hand pain can be caused by any of the muscles, joints, tendons or nerves in your hand, so let’s look at each of these anatomical structures, and how hand pain and other problems may arise:
There are only a few small muscles in the hand that bridge the spaces between the bones called the Metacarpal bones. These muscles are the Intrinsic muscles which are mainly responsible to bring the metacarpal bones together like making a tight fist as well as opening the ‘web spaces’ between these bones.
Lumbricals are mainly on the palm side of the hand and the Interosseous muscles on the back of your hand. These muscles are the first to get strained with repetitive punching, or they can be cut through when a pole or knife is driven through the web spaces between the metacarpals.
We treat muscle pain in the hand by decreasing the strain on the muscle or giving the muscle the correct healing process. Most people have muscle pain in their dominant hand (usually right hand pain). Adapting the way in which you move your hand in is proven to assist with repetitive strain injuries.
On the palm side of the hand there are two groups of rope-like tendons that run across the hand from the forearm to your fingertips. The Flexor Digitorum Superficialis, and Flexor Digitorum Profundus, that gives you the ability to close your fingers into a fist. On the back of your hand we have the Extensor Digitorum Communis that allows you to open your hand.
These tendons gets cut by either glass or a knife. The Flexor group on the palm side of the hand is more prone to injury. An example is washing dishes and the glass breaks in your hand. Defending yourself against a knife attack, or even trying to catch a falling sharp object.
There are three branches of nerves that supply the power and feeling to your hand. The Median nerve supplies the Thumb, Index and middle finger. The Ulnar nerve supplies Ring and Little finger. The Radial nerve gives feeling to the back of your hand and Thumb.
Nerve pain in the hand is caused by damage or disease that affects the power cables of the hand. These power cables control all your hand’s movement and communication such as feeling to the skin and muscles, this includes touch, temperature and a variety of other feelings.
Hand pain due to nerve injury may cause you to feel: Pins & needles, numbness, burning tingling, weakness, electrical shock traveling from the palm of the hand to the fingers. There are numerous ways in which the nerves may be injured, compressed or irritated. Click the link for a more in depth discussion.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a frequent problem patients consult us about. This is when the Median nerve is compressed at the base of the hand and wrist.
One of the most common signs of damage to these nerve is a deformity called “ the Claw”, where the fingers and hands stays in a contracted position and unable to willingly move your hand or fingers.
There are two sets of joints in the hand, the one group connects to your wrist and the others form your knuckles of your fist. The Metacarpal bones connect to the Carpal bones (wrist side) forming the Carpometacarpal Joints(MPJ) at the base of your hand. On the other side, your fingers connect to the first phalanx called the Proximal Phalanx to form the Metacarpal Phalangeal Joints (MPJ).
Arthritis is the most common cause of hand pain in these joints. The Metacarpophalangeal joints are more vulnerable to dislocate due to the relative instability of the fingers connecting to the hand at this point.
There are 4 tightly arranged long bones in the hand called the Metacarpal bones, that fits parallel next to each other. These Metacarpal bones may fracture at high force or impact like when boxing, hitting a wall, or falling with your hand on a rock.
‘Boxer’s fracture” Hence the name, is a fracture of the 5th Metacarpal bone (Below the Little finger) The forces during a punch concentrate on the outside of the fist, and absorbs most of the impact, therefore its the first to crack, break and fracture.
Repetitive stress on the Metacarpal bones may cause the outer edge of the bone to crack that leads to a stress fracture in your hand.
What can you expect from Hand pain treatment?
Relief from hand pain is our number one priority. After assessing the pain in your hand we will treat the structures involved accordingly. From exercises and functional activity adaptations to immobilisation and strengthening. We will ensure that your pain in your right or left hand is a thing of the past by treating your hand pain successfully.
Symptoms of Hand pain
Types of hand pain & structures they may relate to:
Causes of Hand pain
The most common cause would be constant irritation to the tendons running to the palm of the hand. We spend hours in front of computers and gripping our steering wheel. Irritation to the tendons running from the forearm to the hand can easily get irritated and inflamed. A tendinitis is caused by this irritation. When making a fist, a burning pain will be felt over that tendon. In most cases, the tendon as well as its corresponding muscle (in the forearm) needs to be treated to relieve the pain. We use our hands every single day and we cannot afford not to use them. Your productivity depends on it.
Direct injury from a specific fall can easily crack or separate the bones in the hand and wrist with very little force. This pain you will feel with certain movements of the fingers and swelling (or even bleeding) might be present.
Our professional experience with hand pain
We depend on our hands to do our work, the biggest concern among patients are the time it will take to heal. This question can only be answered after full investigation and assessment of all the structures in the hand is done. Muscles and ligaments heal much faster than the joint or cracks in the small bones of the hand.
Most fractures, ligament sprains and joint dislocations react very well to treatment, but you must call upon expert advice to guide you through the process.
What needs to be tested to determine the source of your hand pain
Range of Movement
Nerve tension test
Tendon gliding test
Most common hand injuries we treat:
Extensor digitorum tendinitis
Flexor digitorum tendinitis
Fractures of the bones in the hand
Proximal Metacarpal phalangeal joint dislocations
Questions from patients with hand pain
Spasms in your hands are painful and the cause of it wide spread. Nerve compression, muscle strains or tendon problems cause spasms and cramps. A persionalised treatment process can relief this pain in your hands.
Dropping things you thought you where holding? Struggling to pick up heavier items you never had a problem with before? A pinched nerve causes the muscles in the hand to become weak. You might want to consider seeking treatment for your hand pain and weakness before it is too late.
Why suffer? Call the hand expert today at 072 173 0295.
A nerve impingement, over use of a tendon, a strain of a muscle or even an inflammatory process to heal tissue damage are some of the causes for pain while writing. A thorough assessment by an expert medical professional will be of great value to identify the true cause.
There is no real answer to the question, considering there are so many intricate structures in your hand that can be painful, its essential to first determine what structure is injured before you start doping up on meds to hope it eases the pain.