Finger, Hand, and Wrist Problems, Noninjury
Finger, Hand, and Wrist Problems, Noninjury
Everyone has had a minor problem with a finger, hand, or wrist. Most of the
time our body movements do not cause problems, but it's not surprising that
symptoms occur from everyday wear and tear or from overuse. Finger, hand, or wrist
problems can also be caused by injuries or the natural process of aging.
Your fingers, hands, or wrists may burn, sting, or hurt, or feel tired, sore,
stiff, numb, tingly , hot, or cold. Maybe you can't move them as well as usual,
or they are swollen. Perhaps your hands have turned a different color, such as
red, pale, or blue. A lump or bump might have appeared on your wrist, palm, or
fingers. Home treatment is often all that is needed to relieve your
Finger, hand, or wrist problems may be caused by an
injury. If you think an injury caused your problem, see the topic
Finger, Hand, and Wrist Injuries. But there are many
other causes of finger, hand, or wrist problems.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on a nerve (median nerve ) in the
wrist. The symptoms include tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain of the
fingers and hand.
- Tendon pain is
actually a symptom of tendinosis, a series of very small tears (microtears) in
the tissue in or around the
tendon. In addition to pain and tenderness, common
symptoms of tendon injury include decreased strength and movement in the
- De Quervain's disease can occur in the
hand and wrist when tendons and the tendon covering (sheath) on the thumb side
of the wrist swell and become inflamed. See a picture of
de Quervain's disease .
- Repetitive motion syndrome is a term
used to describe symptoms such as pain, swelling, or tenderness that occur from
repeating the same motion over and over.
- Writer's cramps develop with repeated hand or finger
motion, such as writing or typing.
- Trigger finger or trigger thumb occurs when the flexor
tendon and its sheath in a finger or thumb thicken or swell.
Bone, muscle, or joint problems
- Dupuytren's disease is an abnormal thickening of tissue beneath the skin in the palm
of the hand or hands and occasionally the soles of the feet. The thickened skin
and tendons (palmar fascia) may eventually limit movement or cause the fingers
to bend so that they can't be straightened. See a picture of
Dupuytren's contracture .
- Ganglion cysts are small sacs (cysts) filled with
clear, jellylike fluid that often appear as bumps on the hands and wrists but
can also develop on feet, ankles, knees, or shoulders. See a picture of a
Problems from medical conditions
- Tingling or pain in the fingers or hand
(especially the left hand) may be
signs of a heart attack.
- Diabetes may change how the hands normally feel or
sense touch. Decreased feeling in the hands is common because of decreased
blood flow to the hands or damage to
nerves of the hand .
- Pregnancy may cause
redness, itching, swelling, numbness, or tingling that often goes away after
- Osteoarthritis is the progressive
breakdown of the tissue that protects and cushions joints (cartilage). It may
cause stiffness and pain with movement.
- Rheumatoid arthritis may cause stiffness and pain with
movement. Over time, deformity of the fingers may occur. See a picture of
rheumatoid arthritis .
- Lupus is a long-lasting autoimmune
disease in which the immune system attacks normal body tissues as though they
were foreign substances. It may cause joint pain.
- Gout is an inflammatory joint disease that causes
acute pain and swelling. It is a form of arthritis that develops when uric acid
crystals form in and around the joints, commonly affecting the big toe
- Raynaud's phenomenon is a condition in
which some areas of the body, usually the fingers or toes, have an extreme
response to cold temperature or emotional stress. During an attack of
Raynaud's, the blood vessels in the affected areas tighten, severely limiting
the flow of blood to the skin, causing numbness, tingling, swelling, pain,
and pale color.
- Infection can cause pain, redness, and
swelling that occur with red streaking, heat, fever, or the drainage of pus. An
infection often causes tenderness to the touch or pain with movement at the
site of the infection.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
October 11, 2012
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