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Summary: What should you do about hand pain that won’t go away? Or hand pain that shows up suddenly? Dealing with hand pain of various types can be scary and intimidating. Our hands, after all, are so important, and we use them without thinking all the time, every day. So when something happens to your hands to make them painful, it can really ruin your day. That’s why knowing what you should do about hand pain is good knowledge to have in your back pocket.

So What Should You Do About Hand Pain?

Hand pain can really set you back. If there’s one thing that can interfere with your daily activities, it’s pain that limits the use of your hands. Hand pain, in particular, can be tough to handle because it’s only then that you realize just how often you use your hands. So what should you do about hand pain?

Well, it depends. Different types of hand pain are going to require different approaches. First and foremost, you should seek out medical treatment (or at least seek out the advice of your doctor).

Clearly, if you injure your hand severely and you’re experiencing acute pain, you should go see the doctor immediately (this may even warrant a trip to the emergency room). But it’s those low and dull pains–the chronic pain–that can be a little bit harder to know what to do with. What should you do about hand pain that’s uncomfortable but hasn’t become (so far) a big problem? That’s a good question (and it should be noted that this article should not be substituted for medical advice of any kind–we’re here mainly for entertainment).

Is the Pain Chronic or Acute?

The first question to ask when talking about hand pain is whether the pain is chronic or acute.

  • Chronic pain is discomfort that will come and go without a single, identifiable cause. Chronic pain will typically, but not always, be more of a dull pain, and it can last for a significant amount of time.
  • Acute pain will often have a single and identifiable cause, and the pain will often be sharp and relatively short lived.

Or, to put it another way, chronic pain is pain you experience over a long duration. Acute pain is pain that you experience right now. The two are not mutually exclusive, of course. In terms of what you should about hand pain yourself, though, your approaches might be different. Patients who experience acute pain are usually those patients who are going to go see a doctor immediately.

We tend to try to ignore chronic, pain, however, and that’s not always a good idea. Because chronic pain can be a symptom of a larger issue, and those larger issues tend to only get worse over time.

Types of Chronic Pain (and What They Might Mean)

Chronic discomfort in the hands will usually show up in several different ways:

  • Low level, dull pain. This could be a sign of fatigue or of damage to the hand in any number of ways.
  • Numbness. This is usually a symptom of nerve stress, such as that caused by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
  • Loss of mobility or painful mobility. This is often a symptom of stress on the ligaments or tendons of the hand, such as that caused by Trigger Finger.

These types of chronic pain are not mutually exclusive, of course. In part, that’s because they’re often caused by the same thing: inflammation. And inflammation in the hands can cause all kinds of chronic issues. (The inflammation itself is often also caused by a variety of issues.)

One of the commonly stated reasons for the development of inflammation and chronic pain in the hands is overuse. Repetitive motion, especially, is thought to lead to the development of issues such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (although the research is still out on that).

Even low level chronic hand pain should still be checked out by a hand specialist. If the damage to the nerves or tendons continue, things could get worse.

How to Treat Pain

There are several ways to treat chronic pain in the hands. If the pain is caused by repetitive motion, for example, changing your habits can lead to improvements. Additionally, stretching or exercises can help make your hands more flexible and resistant to damage. (Just as with exercising and stretching your body can do the same.)

In some cases, surgery will be needed to repair the damage to the hand. In those cases, finding a highly qualified hand surgeon is essential. Treating hand pain can lead to a significant reduction in discomfort felt by the patient. However, before surgery, various therapies are often employed to see if they might work first.

But changing habits will almost always be necessary to some degree, depending on the nature of the injury. What should you do about hand pain? Well, it depends on the pain. But you should almost always get your advice about that from a doctor.


About the Author: Dan Voltz has been writing about cosmetic and plastic surgery for over four years. On this article, he worked on behalf of Dr. Charles Polsen, a Clear Lake area hand surgeon and board certified plastic surgeon.

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