We use our wrists and hands in just about everything we do. In fact, many of the physical problems we experience in this area are caused by overuse. Most of us rely on the nerves, tendons, bones and joints in our wrists and hands to make a living. Whether you’re an athlete, a musician, surgeon, hairdresser or someone who works at a computer most of the day, you can’t afford to be slowed down by chronic pain or mobility issues.
Most problems in the hands and wrists that aren’t the result of a specific injury or orthopedic trauma are caused by overuse. Some are simply the result of the body aging. Others, however, may be a symptom of a more serious physical condition. The only way to know for sure is to see a doctor. However, we’re going to discuss some common conditions that can cause pain and other symptoms in the hands and/or wrists.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This is a condition that’s often associated with repetitive hand movements. However, there may be other underlying health issues such as diabetes or an underactive thyroid. It results from a pinched nerve in the wrist. The carpal tunnel itself protects the main nerve inside the hand as well as the tendons that allow you to bend your fingers. It’s located in the palm and underside of the wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause tingling, numbness, weakness and pain.
A Florida orthopedic surgeon who specializes in wrist and hand conditions can determine what treatment is best. Often non-surgical remedies, such as simply resting the wrist regularly or wearing a splint, are sufficient to relieve the pain and other symptoms. In some cases, surgery is necessary to fix the problem.
De Quervain’s Disease
This is another condition often associated with repetitive motion. It occurs when the tendons and surrounding sheath on the side of the wrist nearest the thumb become swollen. Although it can result from injury, it often is caused by repeated wrist and thumb movement such as people do when using a handheld device. In fact, it used to be called “Blackberry thumb.” People with de Quervain’s often have swelling, weakness and/or pain in their thumb, wrist and even into their forearm. Doctors will usually recommend resting and stretching the area. They may suggest anti-inflammatories or steroids. In some cases, surgery is necessary to regain full use of the hand.
This appears as a small bump or lump in the joint of a wrist or hand, although they can occur elsewhere. Understandably, they can be alarming, but they are not cancerous. They are filled with clear fluid. Although it’s not certain what causes them, they may appear as the result of an injury to the capsule that protects the joint or the sheath that protects the tendon that causes extra fluid to form. Sometimes they go away on their own, but they may get larger if fluid continues to build. If they become painful or inhibit hand and wrist movement, they can be drained. However, drained cysts often come back. They can be removed surgically. Whatever treatment you select should be treated by a professional. Contrary to folklore, they should not be smashed with a heavy object.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can both affect the hands and wrists. Both can cause pain and stiffness. There are a number of treatments that your doctor may recommend, possibly including surgery, if the symptoms get too bad.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Get Treatment
If you are suffering any of these symptoms, it’s always best to get treatment sooner rather than later. It can improve your quality of life and prevent the condition from worsening and requiring more invasive treatments like surgery.
It’s also important to rule out a serious underlying medical condition that could be causing your hand and wrist symptoms. For example, tingling in the hand (particularly on the left side) can be a symptom of a heart attack, decreased feeling can be a symptom of diabetes and joint pain can be a symptom of the autoimmune disease lupus.
The hands and wrists are made up of so many delicate, complicated and unique parts that they require specialized orthopedic care. At Southeast Orthopedic Specialists, we have a hand surgery specialist and a hand and wrist specialist. These Jacksonville orthopedic surgeons work to diagnose hand and wrist problems and determine the most appropriate treatment to restore our patients to a more fulfilling life. Call or contact us online to arrange an appointment with one of our specialists.Return to Blog