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[Manhattan Pain Management] How To Find The Right Treatment for Hand Pain Management

Updated: Jul 2

 hand pain treatment

Hand pain affects millions of people worldwide, significantly impacting their quality of life and ability to perform daily activities. Studies estimate that up to 30% of adults experience hand pain each year. From young athletes to elderly workers, hand pain can strike at any age.


Even simple tasks like turning a doorknob, typing, or texting become difficult when hand pain arises. The hands are our primary tools for interacting with the world, so losing hand function hampers our independence and engagement in work, hobbies, and relationships. Chronic hand pain may lead to depression, anxiety, and social isolation.


Hand pain and loss of function can result when any part of its complex system is damaged. Our Manhattan pain management specialists first analyze where and why hand pain occurs to find the right treatment. We explore the diverse causes and treatments available to restore hand health.


Common Causes of Hand Pain

To understand hand pain, it helps to be familiar with hand anatomy. The hand contains 27 bones, along with joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels. The wrist connects to the hand and allows flexible movement. Delicate muscles and tendons enable our fingers to move independently. Nerves relay sensations like touch and pain. With so many intricate structures packed into a small space, it's no wonder hand injuries and arthritis are common.


Hand pain can arise from a variety of conditions that affect the intricate structures within our hands. Here are some of the most frequent causes:


chronic hand pain

Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation that damages the joints. Osteoarthritis, the most common form, occurs when the cartilage protecting the joints wears down over time. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the joints. In the hands, arthritis leads to swelling, stiffness, and aching pain. The joints most impacted are at the base of the fingers and thumbs. Arthritis, hand pain, and loss of function worsen gradually.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is compression of the median nerve as it travels through the wrist. It causes tingling, numbness, weakness, and shooting pain in the thumb, index, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. Symptoms are typically worse at night. Carpal tunnel often results from repetitive hand motions at work or inflammation.


Trigger Finger

Trigger finger occurs when a tendon thickens and gets stuck as it moves through its sheath, causing the finger to lock bent. It causes a painful clicking sensation when straightening the finger. Trigger finger can result from repetitive gripping actions or medical conditions like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.


Tendonitis

Tendonitis refers to inflammation of the tendons from overuse, injury, or underlying disease. It causes localized pain, tenderness, and swelling. Common sites for tendonitis in the hands include the base of the thumb, wrist flexors, and finger flexor tendons.


Diagnosing Hand Pain

Getting an accurate diagnosis is crucial for finding the right treatment for hand pain. Specialists use a combination of approaches to pinpoint the underlying cause, including:


Physical Exam

During a physical exam, the doctor will check for areas of tenderness, swelling, decreased range of motion, and weakness. They may perform provocative tests to recreate the pain or test specific joints and nerves. The findings help determine if the pain stems from muscles, bones, nerves, or other soft tissues.


Medical History

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, the onset and nature of the pain, the impact of activities, past injuries, and medical conditions. These details aid in pattern recognition to narrow down potential diagnoses. Your occupation, recreational activities, and family history are also relevant.


Imaging Tests

X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans, and ultrasounds provide images that reveal bone fractures and defects, soft tissue inflammation, tumors, and vascular issues. However, minor joint, ligament, or tendon injuries may not always appear.


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Nerve Conduction Studies

Electrodes map the electrical activity in nerves to pinpoint nerve damage or compression. Abnormal results indicate conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, pinched nerves, or neuropathy. It helps distinguish nerve-related pain from other causes.


Together, these diagnostic techniques create a multidimensional picture of what's causing the hand pain. The more insights gathered, the higher the chances of identifying the accurate diagnosis and optimal treatment plan. A thorough evaluation marks the first step in the journey toward relief.


When to See a Pain Management Specialist

Experiencing hand pain is very common, but severe or persistent hand pain that impacts your daily life and activities is a sign to seek medical attention. Here are some key signs that indicate you should schedule an appointment with a pain specialist:


Severe Pain

If you are experiencing intense, throbbing, or stabbing pain in your hands that does not get better with over-the-counter medication or home remedies, it is important to see a pain specialist. Severe hand pain can be a symptom of serious medical conditions that require diagnosis and treatment.


suffering from hand pain while working

Persistent Pain

Hand pain that lasts for several weeks or months without relief could indicate an underlying condition. Persistent aches, soreness, stiffness and loss of function should not be ignored. See a health professional to identify the cause and get appropriate care.


Loss of Function

If your hand pain is making it difficult or impossible to complete normal daily tasks like buttoning clothes, opening jars, writing, gripping objects, or lifting, consult with your doctor. The inability to use your hands normally warrants medical evaluation.


Numbness or Tingling

Numb, tingling hands or fingers can result from nerve compression or damage. This loss of sensation, especially if combined with hand weakness, should be evaluated promptly to determine if nerve entrapment or other neurological conditions are present.


Don't hesitate to schedule an appointment with our healthcare professionals if your hand pain is severe, persistent, or causing loss of function. Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage conditions before they worsen or become debilitating. Your doctor can assess your symptoms, order tests if needed, provide an accurate diagnosis, and discuss hand pain relief options tailored to your situation.


Alternative Treatments and Complementary Therapies

When it comes to managing hand pain, most people first turn to painkillers for temporary relief, but this approach only masks the symptoms and doesn't address the underlying cause. Long-term use of painkillers can actually make your condition worse by causing side effects like stomach ulcers or liver damage. For some, surgery may be recommended. However, surgery carries risks and is usually only recommended when other approaches have failed.


For this reason, it's important to seek out alternative treatments that provide lasting relief without the risks associated with prescription drugs. These treatments aim to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and address any underlying conditions contributing to discomfort or loss of function.


physical therapy

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists use various techniques like ultrasound, ice/heat therapies, TENS units, and exercises to reduce inflammation, improve range of motion, strengthen muscles, and retrain movement patterns. Stretches, massage, and joint mobilization of the hands, wrists, and arms are common physical therapy treatments for hand pain.


Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. According to traditional Chinese medicine, this helps correct imbalances in the flow of qi (energy). Studies show acupuncture can reduce hand pain and improve grip strength. It works by triggering the release of natural pain-relieving chemicals in the body.


Massage

Massage therapy applies pressure and manipulates the muscles and soft tissues. This increases circulation, relaxes muscles, and blocks pain signals. Massaging the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, and neck area can help relieve muscle tension contributing to hand pain.


Chiropractic

Chiropractors perform spinal manipulation and adjustments to realign the vertebrae. They may focus on the neck and upper back area for hand pain. Chiropractic care aims to improve functioning and blood flow. Gentle finger and hand manipulation can also help with hand and wrist pain.


Corticosteroid Injections

If the source of hand pain is inflammation of the joints or tendons, corticosteroid injections can offer direct and concentrated relief. A corticosteroid medication is injected into the problem area to reduce swelling and associated pain rapidly.


Self-Care and Lifestyle Changes

While medical interventions play a key role in treating hand pain, simple self-care techniques and lifestyle adjustments can also make a big difference in managing symptoms. Here are some effective ways to obtain hand pain relief through self-care:


Exercise and Stretching

Gentle exercises that stretch the joints and muscles of the hands and wrists can help reduce stiffness, improve flexibility, and prevent injuries. Try doing simple range-of-motion exercises or stretches before starting any activity that involves repetitive hand motions. Taking occasional movement breaks at work to stretch and move the hands can also minimize strain.


hand injury treatment

Hand Braces

Wearing a hand brace or splint can provide extra support and limit painful movements. Braces are especially helpful for managing conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis. It can also provide stability for weakened joints or prevent further damage. Consult a doctor or occupational therapist to find a brace suitable for your specific needs. Proper fit and use are crucial to obtaining benefits.


Heat and Cold Therapy

Alternating hot and cold compresses on painful joints brings relief by promoting blood circulation and reducing inflammation. Try wrapping the hand with a warm towel or ice pack for 10-15 minutes a few times a day. You can also try paraffin wax baths or contrast baths.


Ergonomic Adjustments

Modifying your workspace, posture, body mechanics, and equipment use can take pressure off the hands. Ergonomic keyboards, mouse choices, and wrist pads reduce strain from extensive typing and computer work. Maintaining proper wrist and hand alignments when doing activities also minimizes risk. Consider consulting an occupational therapist for customized solutions.


Making simple yet impactful changes to daily routines and the home or office environment can empower individuals to take control of hand pain management. While not cure-alls, self-care and lifestyle adjustments often complement medical treatment beautifully in the quest for hand pain relief.


The Future of Hand Pain Management

As research on hand pain continues to expand, several promising advancements aim to reshape the landscape of pain management and improve quality of life.


Emerging Research

Exciting research is underway better to understand the complex biological mechanisms behind hand pain. Advanced imaging techniques allow researchers to pinpoint exactly which structures are involved in different pain conditions. Meanwhile, studies probing nerve pathways and molecular processes seek to uncover why some people experience chronic hand pain. These discoveries could lead to more personalized treatments.


Researchers are also investigating risk factors and preventative strategies. Hand injuries in certain occupations are being analyzed to develop safety protocols and protective equipment. The effectiveness of other treatments is being rigorously tested through clinical trials. Nutrition and lifestyle factors are also being evaluated. Compiling this evidence will help refine treatment guidelines.


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Improved Therapies

Several innovative therapies show promise for better hand pain relief. Improved splinting techniques and materials aim to offload pressure and support healing more effectively. Therapies using ice or heat, electric stimuli, ultrasound, and laser are being optimized to reduce inflammation and numb pain. New injection options can deliver pain medication precisely to affected spots.


Regenerative medicine is gaining momentum, using stem cells, platelets, and growth factors to repair damaged tissue. Future biological treatments could potentially reverse arthritic changes and restore cartilage. Gene therapies to permanently alter pain signaling are also under investigation.


Raising Awareness

As research progresses, raising public awareness will be crucial. Education can help people avoid injury through proper ergonomics and protective equipment. Information on managing occupational strain, sports injuries, and conditions like arthritis and carpal tunnel will empower individuals to seek early treatment.


Outreach and advocacy can also make treatments more accessible and spur innovation. As people increasingly prioritize hand health, more funding and resources are likely to be directed toward advancing pain management.


Though much progress lies ahead, the outlook is bright when it comes to improving care and quality of life for those suffering from debilitating hand pain. With scientific discoveries, therapeutic refinements, and greater public awareness, better solutions are on the horizon.


In Conclusion

Finding the right treatment for hand pain management is crucial for maintaining overall well-being and functionality. Individuals can effectively manage their hand pain and improve their quality of life by understanding the underlying causes of hand pain, consulting with a Manhattan pain management specialist, exploring various treatment options, and incorporating lifestyle modifications. Remember, proactive and personalized approaches tailored to individual needs are key to finding lasting relief from hand pain.

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