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Why Do My Hands and Wrists Hurt? How Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendonitis, Osteoarthritis and Ganglion Cysts Affect You

Updated on April 11, 2018
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I love health and passionately believe we should do more to look after our health. Natural remedies are as effective as conventional ones.

Common Ailments Which Can Affect Our Hands

Our hands are amazing but we seldom remember to look after them. There are little wonder things may go wrong and we start to experience hand and wrist pain.

We are always concerned about exercising our butts and keeping our bellies flat but our hands need a work out as well.

Problems with hands and conditions which affect our hands are now more often seen by doctors and most of them do require treatment such as surgery or medication. We use our hands more than ever before and often underestimate the effect frequent keyboard use can have on our hands.

What Are the Most Common Hand and Wrist Problems?

The most common conditions to affect our hands are:

  • Tendonitis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Ganglion Cysts

There is no wonder things go wrong with our hands. Together with our feet they are our most used extremities and are more delicate than we think.

This article will give you more information on tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis and ganglion cysts. It will also cover treatments, hand exercises and give some information how to look after your hands to keep them looking young.

Tendonitis

Tendonitis is a very common hand injury
Tendonitis is a very common hand injury | Source

What is Tendonitis?

Tendonitis is more common in women than men and there is a possibility there is a hormonal link. It occurs when the tendons in the hand become inflamed or irritated. Tendonitis is extremely painful as the tendons are attached to the muscles which in turn attach to the bone in the hand. You may experience a feeling of not being able to open your hand or hold on to something.

The condition has become more common as we spend more of our time working on keyboards and also using text messaging. As a matter of fact, text messaging has led to a rise in the number of cases of DeQuervain’s tendonitis which is a direct result of using your thumb when texting.

Tendonitis is also more common in pregnant women and women going through the perimenopause. It is a hormonal problem which occurs when the production of estrogen decreases.

It can be the result of a repetitive stress injury. Spending all day on a keyboard is now common practice in most companies, and the more time we spend working on a keyboard the more likely we are at risk from tendon injuries such as tendinitis.

What does Tendonitis feel like?

You may experience swelling around your wrist and your hand may feel numb. The pain of tendonitis is more like a burning sensation which starts at the thumb and can travel all the way up your arm. Some sufferers of tendonitis may speak about a pulsating or shooting pain.

How is Tendonitis treated?

It is important to see a doctor and get your condition diagnosed. Quite often the problem goes away on its own and your doctor will recommend you stop an activity which is causing you pain. If the pain carries on for longer than a week despite treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs, your doctor may refer you to a physiotherapist.

Treatments and Home Remedies for Tendonitis

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Heat
  • Rest
  • Physiotherapy
  • Omega 3 Fish Oil
  • Arnica – available both in tablet and gel form
  • Massage with lavender and rosemary essential oils

Tendonitis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis

Help! I have lost feeling in my hand!

You need to visit your doctor straight away. More than likely you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis which more often causes a problem in the morning. This is the main difference between tendonitis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis often affects the smaller joints in your hand causing severe and painful swelling. This is a chronic condition but there is help available, and anti-rheumatic drugs will control the condition.

Natural remedies include changing your diet, exercise and Omega 3 Essential Fatty acid from cold water fish.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is very painful, and you may not be able to stretch your wrists.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is very painful, and you may not be able to stretch your wrists. | Source

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Is it a Tunnel?

Yes, carpal tunnel is indeed a tunnel. It is formed by the bones in your wrist and something called the transverse carpal ligament. The carpal tunnel has a really important job to do as it protects the meridian nerve. The meridian nerve is really important to your hand as it gives your hand feeling and movement. It is also responsible for the control of the flexor tendons which are the tendons which bend your fingers and thumbs.

You are at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome when the synovium membrane which surrounds the flexor tendons swell up and puts pressure on the meridian nerve.

Women are more likely to develop this syndrome during perimenopause and pregnancy.

You also have a higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome if you suffer from diabetes or a thyroid disorder. Both diabetes and thyroid disorders can make you more susceptible to inflammatory disease.

What Does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Feel Like?

The first thing you will notice is tingling in your hand, and you may even notice numbness as well. Most sufferers notice is for the first time when they are doing their shoe laces up or closing a zip.

A doctor will ask you if you are more uncomfortable during the day or night. Most sufferers do suffer more problems during the night as we sleep with one hand under our head, or our wrists curled up.

How Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated?

Your doctor will check the function of the meridian nerve and ascertain if it is compressed. It is done with needles and maybe a little unpleasant.

Conventional treatments include surgery and splints for 6 – 8 weeks.

Treatment and natural remedies for carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Cortisone injections
  • Gingko Biloba seems to help
  • Ginger essential oil
  • Hand exercise
  • Arnica tablets
  • Comfrey oil

Hand Exercises

Do you exercise your hands?

See results

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a result of wear and tear
Osteoarthritis is a result of wear and tear | Source

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory disease which affects the cartilage which covers the bone surfaces of your joints. In osteoarthritis, the bones will start to deteriorate and may even disappear altogether. This causes pain and severe swelling.When osteoarthritis affects the hands mainly seems to affect the thumb area and fingers on hands.

Once again, this is more commonly seen in women as women have looser joints and ligaments. Looser joints and more flexible ligaments do allow for more movement but also for more wear and tear.

What Does Osteoarthritis Feel Like?

The first thing you may notice is a stiffness of the joint or the entire hand. It may hurt more when you are holding a cup of coffee or trying to use a pair of scissors.

The pain of osteoarthritis in the hands can be excruciating and difficult to live with especially during cold or rainy weather.

How Is Osteoarthritis Treated?

There are many various treatments for osteoarthritis in the hands. The most extreme treatment is surgery where the joint is fused to avoid anymore movement. However, your doctor may initially want to try alternatives:

  • Glucosamine with chondroitin
  • Cortisone injections
  • Splints
  • Fish oil to reduce inflammation
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Collagen
  • Hyaluronic acid

Raynaud's Disease vs Osteoarhritis

Help! My fingers turn white then blue . . . .

It could be Raynaud's disease. This is a rare condition and occurs mainly when it is cold. The arteries narrows and the reduced blood flow may cause fingers to turn blue and feel numb.

Make sure to wear gloves when it is cold outside but you may need help from your doctor with some medication which increases blood flow. Raynaud's disease can also affect the toes on your feet.

Effective natural remedies are Gingko Biloba and Extract of Horse Chestnut capsules.


Quick List of Symptoms

Tendonitis
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Osteoarthritis
Ganglion Cyst
Swelling
Tingling
Stiffness
Lump
Numbness
Numbness
Pain
Soft
Shooting pain
Problems using hand
Swelling
May become inflammed
Difficulty in holding an object
Worse in the night and morning
Redness of the skin
Pain

Ganglion Cysts

A ganglion cyst underneath the wrist
A ganglion cyst underneath the wrist

What Are Ganglion Cysts?

Most of us would feel very anxious if we discovered a lump on our wrists but almost 90% of the time it is a ganglion cyst. Ganglion cysts consist of small or large fluid sacs that grow out of the joint. Women suffer from more ganglion cysts than men because we carry handbags.

You can also develop a ganglion cyst taking a fall and they are also often seen in people that do a lot of yoga. Downward moves such as Downward Facing Dog can cause pressure on the wrist and lead to a cyst. Golfers often suffer from ganglion cyst.

What Does a Ganglion Cyst Feel Like?

They are small fleshy lumps which are most of the time soft to the touch but can feel hard if they become inflamed. Most of the time they do not hurt but can put pressure on the nerves in the joint, and if this happens they can become painful.

How Do You Get Rid of a Ganglion Cyst?

Most of the time they do actually go away on their own but there are some treatments which can be useful.

  • Surgery is often recommended
  • A cream containing chili
  • Arnica reduces the size of cysts
  • Heat treatment
  • Wristband

Lyme Disease vs Ganglion Cysts

Help! I am having constant joint pain in my wrist.

You may have been bitten by a tick. One of the symptoms of Lyme Disease is joint pain which may occur in one or more joints in the body. It is a bacterial infection which requires a course of antibiotics so if you suspect this see your doctor.

Anti-inflammatory treatments will help with the pain. Stepping up your intake of Essential Fatty Acids (Fish Oil) to 5 grams per day is an alternative.

How to keep your hands looking young
How to keep your hands looking young | Source

Top Tips for Younger Looking Hands

Quite often you will find people look at your hands to try and figure out of old you are, and most of us are keen to keep our hands looking young.

Here are some top tips on how you can achieve this without making it too complicated.

Top Tip One – Put Your Gloves On

Whether you are doing dishes or out in the cold remember to put your gloves on.

Doing housework or dishes can seriously damage your hands. Strong detergents and cleaners can play havoc with our skin. You may think you are going to rush that chore but it is most certainly better to take some extra time to put on your marigolds.

Many cleaning products do contain at least some ammonia. Ammonia is one of those substances which can really dry out your skin and cause some nasty allergic reactions as well.

Wearing gloves in winter is crucial when it comes to younger-looking hands. It is unpleasant to have cold hands and the cold does a lot of damage as well. So at the beginning of the cold season invest in some nice gloves which will go with your outfits and make a habit of wearing them.

Cold weather can easily damage our arteries and small veins, and this could lead to problems with circulation.

Top Tip Two – Moisturize, Moisturize and Moisturize

Spoil the skin on your hands and invest in a really good moisturizer. Natural moisturizers are better than hands creams containing parabens. Parabens can lead to eczema and also dry out the skin.

Also, consider investing in a hand cream containing UV protection. UV rays from the sun are responsible for all of those little brown spots on our hands that we all hate so much.

Top Tip Three – Vitamin A and Horse Chestnut Extract

Vitamin A will help to support good skin health not only on your hands but also the rest of your body. Our hands are so exposed and if we can help them along by making sure we keep our vitamin A levels topped up even better.

Horse Chestnut Extract is the number one supplement for microcirculation. Our hands are full of small veins supplying oxygen-rich blood to the fingers and we can help to keep our veins healthy by taking a supplement of Horse Chestnut Extract.

Top Tip Four – Exercise Your Hands

Your hands consist of 27 small bones and 28 muscles but yet we seldom exercise them. We spend a lot of time exercising the rest of our body but for some reason, we neglect to exercise our hands.

Manicures will help to massage the muscles in your hands but we don’t have those every day. To exercise your hands only takes a few minutes every day and will help to keep your hands healthy.

Easy to follow exercises to keep your hands and wrists healthy

Joint Hand Stretch

Exercise your hands
Exercise your hands | Source

Hand Exercise One

Joint Hand Stretch

Stretch out your hands and hold them gently together. Now try to stretch your hands a bit further and your arms as well. You will feel a slight stretch from the shoulder to the tip of your fingers.

Hold for a few seconds and go to the next step

Reverse Hand Stretch

Reverse hand stretch will help to improve the circulation in your fingers and improve joint flexibility
Reverse hand stretch will help to improve the circulation in your fingers and improve joint flexibility | Source

Hand Exercise Two

Interlaced Hand Stretch

Interlace your fingers and turn your palms outwards away from your chest. Stretch from the shoulders so you can feel it all the way down your arm. Hold for a few seconds.

Palm Up Stretch

This stretch increases the flexibility of the wrist joint.
This stretch increases the flexibility of the wrist joint. | Source

Hand Exercise Three

Palm up

Hold your hand flat and use your other hand to push the hand upwards. Hold for about ten seconds and let go.

Palm Down Hand Stretch

Palm down hand stretch will make the joints st the bottom of your fingers more flexible
Palm down hand stretch will make the joints st the bottom of your fingers more flexible | Source

Hand Exercise Four

Reverse hand stretch

Grab hold of your fingers and pull the hand down towards you very gently. Hold for a ten seconds.

Fist Up Exercise

Small movements exercises many of the muscles in the hand.
Small movements exercises many of the muscles in the hand. | Source

Hand Exercise Five and Six

Fist Grip

Make a fist and stretch out your arm from the shoulder. Turn the fist up and then turn it downwards. Hold for ten seconds on each sides. This is a great exercise for the carpal tunnel tendon which protects the meridian nerve.

Hand Exercise Six - Downwards Fist

Exercise for the muscles and tendons in the hand and wrist.
Exercise for the muscles and tendons in the hand and wrist. | Source

All Finger Stretch

This is a strong and dynamic stretch for your fingers.
This is a strong and dynamic stretch for your fingers. | Source

Hand Exercise Seven

Big Stretch

With your palm facing down stretch all your fingers as much as you can and hold for ten seconds.

Thumb Stretch

We often forget how important the thumb is to the function of our hand.
We often forget how important the thumb is to the function of our hand. | Source

Hand Exercise Eight

Thumb Focus

Bring your fingers together, and hold. Then stretch your thumb outwards away from your fingers.

Hold for ten seconds.

The Claw Hold

The Claw Hold exercises the small upper joints in the fingers.
The Claw Hold exercises the small upper joints in the fingers. | Source

Hand Exercise Nine

An Easy Hold

Clutch your hand and make a gesture with it like it was a claw. Holds for ten seconds and then allow your to relax.

The Open Hand Squeeze

Squeeze fingers and hands together
Squeeze fingers and hands together | Source

Hand Exercise Ten

Palm Squeeze

Stretch out your palms and place them together. Squeeze your palms and fingers together and hold for ten seconds.

Joint Hand Stretch

Finish off your hand exercise routine with the hand stretch.
Finish off your hand exercise routine with the hand stretch. | Source

Hand Exercise Eleven

Back to the Start

Finish as you started with a joint hand stretch and now follow the same routine with the hand.

You can repeat this routine as many times as you like but three times on each side would really help.

And finally . . .

Looking after your hands is not difficult. Problems with the hands arise when we forget to exercise our hands and we need to remind ourselves how much we rely on them.

© 2014 Annie Messeri

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