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Finger, Hand, and Wrist Problems, Noninjury


Topic Overview

Bones of the elbow 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, tinglyClick here to see an illustration., 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 symptoms.

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.

Overuse problems

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on a nerve (median nerveClick here to see an illustration.) 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 affected area.
  • 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 diseaseClick here to see an illustration..
  • 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 contractureClick here to see an illustration..
  • 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 ganglionClick here to see an illustration..

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 handClick here to see an illustration..
  • Pregnancy may cause redness, itching, swelling, numbness, or tingling that often goes away after delivery.
  • 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 arthritisClick here to see an illustration..
  • 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 joint.
  • 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.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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