How to Relieve Hand Pain

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Hand Pain
Hand Pain (Image: CC license courtesy of Flickr users: PugnoM http://www.flickr.com/photos/pugno_muliebriter/1535735434/, eyesogreen http://www.flickr.com/photos/25960000@N05/2883058921/, ragesoss http://www.flickr.com/photos/ragesoss/2286161441/, caitlinator http://www.flickr.com/photos/caitlinator/2676159656/, tracy the astonishing http://www.flickr.com/photos/tracy_the_astonishing/3043324604/)

Chronic hand pain is frequently caused by conditions such as arthritis, Raynaud's syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome. Sprains, strains and repetitive stress injuries can also cause occasional soreness. If your pain is persistent or severe, you should seek medical attention. However, there are many at-home treatments that may be used to treat mild-to-moderate hand pain. They reduce swelling and inflammation, relax the muscles, and numb the hand. These treatments are often used to supplement other, more aggressive therapies.

Things You'll Need

  • Hot/cold gel pack
  • Hand brace
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Topical pain relief creams
  • Fingerless gloves

Rest your hand and elevate it above your heart to reduce swelling. If you have strained your hand, you may need to cut back on hand-intensive activities for a few days or a couple of weeks.

Use a cold gel or ice pack to reduce swelling in your tendons and temporarily numb your hand pain. Don't leave this on for more than 15 to 20 minutes at a stretch. If the muscles in your hand are sore, use a hot gel pack or a hot water bottle to relax the muscles.

Use a rigid or flexible brace to temporarily immobilize your wrist and hand. This helps reduce inflammation by restricting movements that may aggravate your condition. Don't wrap the device too tightly.

Rigid Brace
Rigid Brace

Take over-the-counter medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen help to control inflammation. Acetaminophen works by reducing the sensation of pain but doesn't reduce swelling.

Pain Killers
Pain Killers

Apply topical creams that contain active ingredients such as salicylate, menthol or capsaicin. Common brands include Bengay, Zostrix, Aspercreme and Icy Hot. You may need to try more than one brand to find one that works for you. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for use.

Perform simple hand exercises that strengthen muscles and increase tendon flexibility. For example, open your hand and touch the tip of each finger to your thumb in succession. Or, practice opening your hand fully and then making a fist.

Use fingerless gloves to keep your hands warm while you work. These provide some relief for hand pain caused by Raynaud's syndrome and arthritis.

Fingerless Glove
Fingerless Glove

Tips & Warnings

  • A gentle hand massage can help release tension and soothe aching joints. Arthritis treatments often use a combination of cold followed by heat to relieve hand pain.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you have injured your hand and believe you may have fractured a bone or damaged a tendon. Check for possible interactions with other drugs and don't exceed recommended dosages when taking over-the-counter medications. Don't use wraps or braces for extended periods of time without a doctor's supervision.

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