The hand is made up of nerves, bones, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and skin. Muscles are responsible for hand movement along with tendons, which anchor muscles to the bones. Nerves control sensation and muscle function, while blood vessels carry nutrients and oxygen to all the important structures.
Everyone experiences hand pain at some point in their life. Hand pain can be due to injury, infection, tumor, underlying medical condition, or the natural process of aging. In some cases, hand pain is a symptom of a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention, such as a hand fracture or infection.
Fingers and hands can exhibit a wide variety of symptoms such as numbness, tingling, throbbing, aching, soreness, stiffness, and increased warmth or cold. Hand pain can be dull, sharp, tingling, burning, continuous, or intermittent. Hand pain in form of burning or “pins and needles” sensation (paresthesia) is caused by temporary or permanent nerve damage. In addition, depending on the condition or injury, your hand may change color to red, pale, or blue.
Numerous medical conditions can cause hand pain. Tingling and hand pain may be signs of carpal tunnel syndrome, pinched nerve in the neck, and even heart attack. Diabetes eventually causes hand pain and decreased feeling in the hands due to nerve damage and decreased blood flow. Pregnancy is often the culprit behind hand pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Arthritis causes hand pain and stiffness of the hand joints, such as knuckles, while infection results in hand pain associated with redness and swelling at the site of infection.
Hand pain can be caused by overuse such as seen in tendonitis. Tendon pain is a symptom of tendinosis caused by small tears in the tissue around the tendon or tendonitis, which is the result of inflammation, irritation and tendon swelling. Traumatic injury to the hand can result in hand fracture and ligament injury, as seen in gamekeeper's thumb. Sometimes, with hand pain, you may feel decreased strength and range of motion in the affected area.
It is important to keep in mind, that complications associated with hand pain can be very serious and can result in chronic disability, inability to perform daily tasks, hand deformity, and even spread of infection to the rest of the body causing sepsis. If you are experiencing persistent pain or other symptoms in your fingers and hand, please contact your health care provider.