Chronic pain in the hand is pain or discomfort in the hands, fingers, or wrist that lasts at least three months. It can often interfere with daily life, causing difficulty sleeping, eating, working, and managing self-care. Chronic pain may be continuous or come and go, and is often the result of another underlying condition.
Chronic Pain (Hand)
Understanding Chronic Pain (Hand)
While symptoms vary depending on the root cause, common chronic hand pain symptoms include:
- Pain and stiffness in the muscles or joints of the hands, wrists, or fingers
- A jabbing, throbbing, stinging, aching, or burning sensation in any part of the hands
- Swelling around the joints of the fingers or wrists
- Poor or worsening grip strength
- Numbness or weakness in the hands, wrists, or fingers
- Difficulty straightening the fingers
- Decreased range of motion in the fingers or wrists
Causes & Risk Factors
Many different underlying causes can contribute to chronic pain in the hands, including:
- Inflammation due to arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, lupus, or gout
- Peripheral neuropathy due to autoimmune disease, diabetes, or infection
- Sprains, fractures, dislocations, or other injuries
- Improper healing after surgery or trauma
- Stenosing tenosynovitis (trigger finger)
- De Quervain’s tenosynovitis
Diagnosing Chronic Pain (Hand)
Doctors usually classify hand pain as chronic if it persists or recurs for more than three months. However, because pain is usually a symptom of another condition, your doctor will likely conduct a physical exam to better understand where your pain is originating and may order blood tests, urine tests, X-rays, MRIs, electromyography, nerve conduction studies, or spinal fluid tests to identify the cause.
Treatments for Chronic Pain (Hand)
There are many options for managing and treating chronic pain, and the best method varies by patient, severity of pain, medical history, and associated condition. Your doctor may choose a surgical treatment, a non-surgical treatment, or combine multiple options to alleviate your chronic hand pain.
- Medication: Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, or prescription drugs like muscle relaxers, steroids, or opioids to help alleviate symptoms
- Steroid injections: Injecting cortisone directly into the tendon to reduce pain
- Joint splinting: Using an external device to immobilize the affected joint(s)
- Physical therapy: Engaging in specific exercises to strengthen and stretch the tendons and muscles of the hands
- Tendon repair: Reconnecting tendons by sewing fibers back together or inserting tendon tissue grafted from another part of the body
- Nerve repair: Reattaching nerves or inserting a nerve graft to restore hand function and feeling
- Fasciotomy: Relieving pressure and hand pain by creating an incision in the connective tissue
- Joint replacement: Restoring function to finger or wrist joint using tissue from another area of the body or synthetic material
Replantation revision: Correcting a previous replantation of the finger or hand to improve function
Discover stories from recent patients who found relief from chronic pain.