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A Patient’s Guide To Relieving Hand Pain and Stiffness

How to get rid of the hand pain for good!

Hand pain and stiffness are relatively common and can be caused by a wide array of health conditions. In the elderly population, the prevalence of hand pain in a period of one month is an estimated 16.9%. One of the most common causes of hand pain and stiffness is carpal tunnel syndrome, which affected more than 5 million American workers in 2010. It can be debilitating and may affect your daily activities as wrist and hand pain and discomfort can limit your movements.

Common Causes of Hand Pain

  • Arthritis. This can be a complication of a recent injury or as part of aging. People with hand arthritis suffer a dull or a burning pain in the joints accompanied by stiffness and inflammation.

  • De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. This condition causes pain around the thumb area which may radiate to the forearm. Simple gestures like clenching your fist or grasping objects can lead to pain.

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Characterized by pain, numbness, or stiffness in the palm, wrist, forearm or fingers, carpal tunnel syndrome worsens at night and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as a tingling sensation and hand weakness.

  • Fracture or dislocation. Aside from the pain, you will also notice some swelling, stiffness, and limited motion in the affected area. In most cases, this will require surgery depending on the extent and severity of the injury.

  • Ganglion Cysts. These are often harmless and although 35% of cases are asymptomatic, there can also be some degree of pain (which worsens with movement), swelling, and weakness in the wrist, hand, and fingers.

  • Trigger finger. Because this forces your thumb or other fingers into a bent position, it becomes painful with movement. This condition is often associated with other health problems such as gout, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.

How to Relieve Hand Pain and Stiffness

  1. Wear splints or casts especially at night time. This will help keep the joints in a neutral position and stabilize your hand and fingers to ease the swelling.

  2. Wear arthritis gloves with the right amount of compression to help relieve joint pain and discomfort as you perform your activities during the day.

  1. Rest your hand and avoid any motion which aggravates the pain. If there’s a specific cause for the pain (e.g. overuse injury), your doctor might advise you to refrain from resuming that particular activity unless you have fully recovered.

  1. Take an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) like Ibuprofen as needed. However, this may not be effective in certain conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. And aside from following the instructions when taking the medication, you must also avoid long-term use. If there’s no relief after a few days, contact your doctor. Using these drugs for an extended period may cause stomach ulcers and even liver damage.

  1. To loosen the stiffness in your hands, you can soak your hand in a basin of warm water for 15 minutes. Check the temperature and test the water first to prevent burn injury.

  1. Apply an ice pack to the injured hand to numb the pain and decrease the swelling. Do not put the ice directly on the skin since it can result in frostbite. If you don’t have an ice pack, you can use a bag of frozen peas or vegetables wrapped in a towel as an alternative. Do this for only 15 minutes at a time.

  1. Perform stretches and exercises to strengthen your hand. You will need the help of a physical therapist for this to make sure the exercises are suitable for your condition.

Chiropractic Care for Arthritis

Chiropractors can help relieve joint pain caused by arthritis through the following methods:

  • Use of ultrasound waves to create a massaging effect that decreases joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.

  • Application of low-voltage electric pulses, known as electrotherapy, to stimulate muscles and nerves.

  • Use of non-heat laser light that penetrates the deep tissues and reduce inflammation.

When should you seek medical care?

  • If there’s no relief even after self-care treatments.

  • If your hand or fingers are bent at a strange angle.

  • If there’s an extreme pain after sustaining injury.

  • If there’s loss of movement in your hands, wrist, or fingers.

  • If you hear a snapping or popping noise each time you move your fingers.


Your hands have many functions that are essential in daily living. For this reason, it is essential to prevent hand injuries and diseases from getting worse by observing these home remedies and seeking medical care as soon as possible.

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