Hand and Wrist Pain

Different types of hand and wrist pain

Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and arm. The condition occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand — the median nerve — is squeezed or compressed as it travels through the wrist.

In most patients, carpal tunnel syndrome gets worse over time, so early diagnosis and treatment are important. Early on, symptoms can often be relieved with simple measures like wearing a wrist splint or avoiding certain activities.

If pressure on the median nerve continues, however, it can lead to nerve damage and worsening symptoms. To prevent permanent damage, surgery to take pressure off the median nerve may be recommended for some patients.

Arthritis is a leading cause of disability in the United States. Osteoarthritis is a “wear and tear” disease in which the cartilage that protects are joints is worn down and eventually disappears. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system causes degeneration of the joints. In both cases, smooth pain-free motion is lost. Thumb arthritis is a very common form of arthritis in the hand. Depending on the type of arthritis a person has, different joints (knuckles) in the hand will be affected. Psoriatic arthritis, while less common than the other types of arthritis mentioned above, may affect the hands as well as the finger nails.

There are many tendons in the hand and wrist. Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon. De Quervain’s is a type of tendinitis. Most commonly, tendinitis in the hand affects the tendons of the wrist. Tendinitis pain is usually described as tightness, aching and burning pain. The pain is often worse during gripping or holding objects. Repetitive motion is likely to aggravate tendinitis.

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis
De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is one of the causes of thumb pain. It is a condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side, which attach to the wrist. De Quervain’s is also known as Blackberry Thumb because it is usually worsened by typing with your thumbs. If you have de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, turning the wrist and grasping will usually elicit pain. De Quervain’s is caused by repetitive motions.

A sprain is a name for damage to the ligaments within a joint. There are many ligaments in the wrist and fingers, making this part of the body particularly susceptible to sprain. This contrasts strains, which refer to the muscle and tendon injuries rather than ligaments. The symptoms of sprain are pain, swelling, tenderness, bruising, stiffness, loss of strength and decreased range of motion. During injury, you may have the sensation of tearing or popping of the ligaments.

Trigger finger (AKA stenosing tenosynovitis)
Trigger finger is a painful condition that causes the fingers or thumb to catch or lock when bent. In the thumb its called trigger thumb. It happens when tendons in the finger or thumb become inflamed. Tendons are tough bands of tissue that connect muscles and bones. Together, the tendons and muscles in the hands and arms bend and straighten the fingers and thumbs.A tendon usually glides easily through the tissue that covers it (called a sheath) because of a lubricating membrane surrounding the joint called the synovium. Sometimes a tendon may become inflamed and swollen. Prolonged irritation of the tendon sheath can produce scarring and thickening that impede the tendon’s motion. When this happens, bending the finger or thumb can pull the inflamed tendon through a narrowed tendon sheath, making it snap or pop.

How does acupuncture treat hand and wrist pain?

  • Acupuncture treats hand pain and wrist pain by improving circulation and relaxing spasms which promotes healing. Certain acupuncture points help stop pain, too.
  • Herbal soaks for hand and wrist pain problems. It allows delivery of medicine directly to the affected tissues to improve circulation, stop pain and encourage the healing of ligaments, tendons, muscle and bone.