Pain in Hand Wrist and Arm: Causes and Relief
Pain in Hand Wrist and Arm
We use over 30 muscles to control our hands, wrists, and arms. The hands, wrists and arms are essential parts of the body which we use every day to do simple tasks. Without them, we would struggle on a day-to-day basis.
Most people will experience some type of strain or pain in one of these parts at some point in their lives. Nathan Briganti of Briganti Physiotherapy, a musculoskeletal specialist physiotherapist, working within NHS, Private Practice and Professional sport has provided some useful information on the causes of hand, wrist, and arm pain, as well as some tips on how to relieve this type of pain
Common Causes of Pain in Hand, Wrist and Arm
Many causes of hand, wrist and arm pain are due to accidents. The most common types of accidents which may cause injuries to these areas include:
· Knocks and blows in sports activities
· Injuries caused by trips, slips, and falls
· Accidents at work – Pain in the hands, wrists and arm can also happen due to your employer’s negligence. Slips trips and falls at work, accidents involving dangerous machinery, and falls from height may lead to various injuries to the wrists. Conditions such as hand-arm vibration syndrome and repetitive strain injuries may also arise as the result of your employer’s negligence.
· Trapping your hands, wrists or arms in tight spaces or dangerous machinery at work
Past strains, fractures or breaks of bones in your hands, wrists, and arms, may cause long-lasting impacts to the strength and flexibility of your bones and muscles in these parts. This damage may cause occasional pain at times as you recover, and you may be more predisposed to developing osteoarthritis in the area
· Repetitive Strain – At work, and in daily life you may pick up habits without realising. Repetitive strain is quite common for office workers who spend all day on admin, manual workers who do the same task over and over. It is quite common also with new parents. Continuous typing on your computer without taking a break can cause strain and cramping to the wrist and hand.
Common Conditions of the Wrist
It is common to develop pain in these areas at any age. Most will resolve within a couple of weeks. Most injuries to hand and wrist are due to trauma or overuse injuries but some conditions may be genetic or develop over time. Some common medical conditions which can cause hand, wrist and arm pain include:
· De Quervain’s Tendinopathy is inflammation of the tendon sheath that surrounds the tendons that move the thumb. Pain is felt around the base of the thumb and the bony part of the wrist the same side. Its normally due to repetitive strain or overuse of the hand.
· Osteoarthritis (OA). OA is a condition that causes joints to become painful and stiff. Some people have swelling, tenderness and clicking/grinding of the joint. The hand is one of the most common areas to be affected by OA as we use them so much. OA is the most common type of arthritis in the UK
· Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). RA causes joint inflammation and pain. It happens when the immune system does not work properly and attacks lining of the joints (called the synovium). The disease commonly affects the hands, knees or ankles, and usually the same joint on both sides of the body.
· Ganglion Cysts. A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled swelling that develops near a joint or tendon. The cyst can range from the size of a pea to the size of a golf ball. They are not cancerous and can disappear as quickly as they appear.
· Trigger Finger is a condition that affects one of more of the hand’s tendons, making it difficult to bend the affected finger or thumb. Id the tendon becomes inflamed it can catch in the tunnel causing it to lock.
· Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome causes changes in the sensation of the fingers which can lead to permanent numbness of fingers, muscle weakness and, in some cases, bouts of white finger. It is caused by working with vibrating tools
· Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is pressure on the median nerve in your wrist. It causes tingling, numbness and pain in your hand and fingers. You can often treat it yourself, but it can take months to get better.
· Tennis Elbow/Golfers elbow is when the tendons of the muscles at the wrist become inflamed due to overload or strain. When this happens pain can develop on the lateral side of the elbow (tennis) or on the inside of the elbow (golfers).
There are many other medical conditions which may lead to hand wrist and arm pain, so we would always advise that you speak to a medical professional to obtain a diagnosis. You should contact your GP or a Physiotherapist IF:
· the pain is severe or stopping you doing normal activities
· the pain is getting worse or keeps coming back
· the pain has not improved after treating it at home for 2 weeks
· you have any tingling or loss of sensation in your hand or wrist
· you have diabetes – hand problems can be more serious if you have diabetes
You should also see a medical professional urgently if the following occur.
· have severe pain
· feel faint, dizzy or sick from the pain
· heard a snap, grinding or popping noise at the time of the injury
· are not able to move your wrist or hold things
· have a wrist that’s changed shape or colour, such as blue or white
How To Relieve Hand, Wrist And Arm Pain
Most cases of hand or wrist pain are not serious and have a short- term recovery period of a few days or weeks. If you are suffering from aches, cramping, soreness in any part of your hand, wrists and arms, there are simple self-care strategies that may help you treat your pain. If your pain is severe or lasts for a long period of time, call your doctor to ensure that you are receiving the appropriate medical treatment.
Reducing Work Load
Avoid tasks which may make the pain worse, such as those which involve repetitive movements, for example, painting or lifting heavy objects. You should also try to minimise the use of vibration tools if you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your hands or wrists.
You should always inform your employer if you are experiencing pain and request a change in the way you do some tasks or request lighter duties.
Taking over the counter pain relief medication such as paracetamol, or NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, help relieve pain in your hands, wrists and arms. NSAID gel may also help to relieve the pain. In addition to treating it at home, your G.P. or physiotherapist may also offer treatment in the form of corticosteroid injections.
Ice and Heat Packs
Using ice packs and heat packs on the affected area can help to ease pain and swelling in your hands, wrists, and arms. You can use anything from frozen peas to solid ice cubes, in a towel to put on your skin, to make the swelling go down.
You should apply ice for up to 20 minutes several times a day. It is best to apply heat/Ice directly to where it hurts to reduce stiffness and swelling. You can use wheat bags in the microwave, hot water bottles, have a warm bath or shower, to help relieve the pain.
Your physiotherapist or doctor may recommend wearing a hand or wrist splint. Splints help keep your joints and muscles in place and support and adjust them to assist in the recovery process.
Relieving Pain in Hand, Wrist and Arm using Physiotherapy
One of the most common treatment options for hand and wrist pain is physiotherapy.
Briganti Physiotherapy offers a range of treatments and modalities to manage, reduce and eliminate hand and wrist pain. Briganti Physiotherapy uses a range of evidence based treatments and modalities to aid in your recovery. While we utilise manual therapy and injection therapy to help treat patients, the underpinning of our treatment is based on education and the use exercise and strengthening.
How Can Beacon Law Help?
If you believe you developed hand, wrist, or arm pain due to an accident, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. Beacon Law provides an experienced team of solicitors and legal professionals. We provide a high level of service to all our clients and work to ensure you receive the highest level of accident work compensation for your injuries. Beacon Law is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Contact us today to find out if you have a claim. Use our contact form or call 0330 1332 857.