Finger, Hand, Wrist Pain

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What is it?

At one time or another, everyone has experienced pain in a finger, hand, or wrist.  

In most cases such pain is caused by everyday wear and tear, overuse or through injury.  

Finger, hand, or wrist injuries most commonly occur during:

  • Sports or recreational activities.

  • Work-related tasks.

  • Projects around the home

  • Accidents and falls

In children, most finger, hand, or wrist injuries occur during sports or play or from accidental falls.  

Older adults are at higher risk for injuries and fractures, because they lose muscle mass and bone strength as they age. They also have more problems with vision and balance, which increases their risk of accidental injury. 


What causes it?  

An acute injury may occur from a direct blow or a fall.  

Pain may also be caused from twisting, jerking, jamming, or bending a limb abnormally. Pain may be sudden and severe and bruising and swelling may develop soon after the injury.  

Acute injuries include:  

  • Bruises

  • Torn ligaments

  • Injuries to tendons

  • Sprains

  • Pulled muscles (strains)

  • Broken bones (fractures)

  • Dislocations


Arthritis is a common cause of finger, hand and wrist pain – particularly in older people.  

Pain from overuse occurs when too much stress is placed on a joint or other tissue, often by "overdoing" an activity or repeating the same activity.  

There are many common causes of wrist pain including:

  • Arthritis

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (dysfunction of one of the nerves in the wrist)

  • Ganglion Cyst (benign, fluid-filled capsules that may grow in size causing pain and discomfort)

  • Fractures

  • Tendonitis (due to inflammation of the tendon sheath)

  • Sprains (a common injury to the ligaments around the wrist joint)  


Common treatments  

Most minor injuries causing pain to fingers, hands or wrists will heal on their own.  

Home treatment is usually all that is needed to relieve symptoms and promote healing.   

Treatment depends on the location, type and severity of the injury. It also depends on when the injury occurred and the age and health condition of the patient.  


Treatment for a finger, hand, or wrist injury may include:

  • Pain relievers

  • Brace or taping (for support)

  • Splint or cast

  • Physical therapy

It is important to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms so that appropriate treatment can be directed at the cause.  

Common treatments for wrist pain include:

  • Rest

  • Ice and heat applications

  • Wrist support (braces)

  • Anti-inflammatory medications

  • Cortisone injections


Some wrist conditions (including fractures) require a surgery.  

You should seek medical attention if you are unsure of the cause of your wrist pain or if wrist pain persists beyond a few days.  

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About Pain does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment