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Hand pain

How to bring hand pain under control

The hand is a true feat of evolution. The combination of immense strength and absolute control makes them an indispensable tool for humans. There’s is hardly a moment when our hands aren’t active, and there aren’t many activities that don’t involve them. 

Over our lifetimes, we bend and stretch our hands up to 25 million times. However, most people only notice how often we use our hands and how important they are when hand pain makes us feel every single movement.

Hand pain is often a warning sign and indicates that we may be using our hands too much. To avoid injuries, chronic pain and potential long-term effects, don’t take hand pain on the chin; seek medical advice immediately. 

Structure and function of the hand

Your hand is made up of more than 100 ligaments, 36 joints, 33 muscles and 27 bones. The structure of the hand’s bones and joints facilitates a broad range of motions and thus a high degree of dexterity as well. The thumb plays a particularly important role here, as it can apply counter-pressure to the fingers, which in turn is essential for gripping. 

The muscles used to bend and stretch the fingers are located in the forearm and their tendons run on the flexor or extensor side to their insertions in the hand. Tendons are surrounded by sheaths to ensure they are protected and can move smoothly without resistance. The short hand muscles, also known as the intrinsic muscles of the hand, are located directly in the hand, however, and these are what allow fingers to be spread and brought back together, for example. 

The three main nerves of the hand – the median nerve (nervus medianus), radial nerve (nervus radialis) and ulnar nerve (nervus ulnaris) – are responsible for controlling motor function and the sensations of touch, pain and temperature. 

Anatomical depiction of the right hand - palm

Right hand, palmar view

Hand pain Possible types and symptoms

Depending on the cause, hand pain can manifest as a range of different symptoms. 

  • Joint diseases such as arthrosis, arthritis, rheumatism and gout cause pain when the finger joints move.
  • Sensory conditions such as tingling, burning and itching in the fingers or wrist indicate that an underlying neurological problem is to blame.
  • A trapped nerve can also cause numbness in the fingers.
  • Morning stiffness in the hand and fingers is a typical symptom of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Other symptoms can include loss of strength and gripping problems, as well as painful swelling.

Various causes of hand pain 

As a rule, there can be many different triggers for hand pain. In addition to stress-related pain, hand pain can also be caused by conditions such as rheumatism, gout, Dupuytren's contracture, carpal tunnel syndrome, injuries such as skier’s thumb or scaphoid fracture, deformities or genetic predisposition. Other possible causes include bone and joint damage, muscular problems, irritation, nerve damage and circulatory disorders.

In most cases, the possible causes of painful hands can be isolated based solely on where the pain is felt. 

The following overview shows different types of pain classified by their location. It is designed purely to provide guidance and an initial overview of possible causes. 

To ensure a reliable diagnosis and avoid subsequent damage, please consult a doctor at an early stage if you experience any pain or discomfort in your hand. 

Localisation: Where does hand pain originate? 

Treating hand pain

Before you start taking measures yourself, you should always consult a doctor if you experience hand pain. Every puncture wound or cut, no matter how small, should be examined by a qualified hand surgeon immediately. This is because a tendon can still fully rupture (for example) after it has torn – even if there is no immediate loss of functionality. 

This is particularly true if you suffer a loss of sensation in the hand, after an acute injury, or if you experience extreme pain, a visible deformity or grinding or snapping noises during or after an injury or restricted movement. You should always seek medical advice if the pain does not subside or your condition does not improve over time. Please ensure that any measures you take benefit your health.

First steps for painful hands

When it comes to hands, there are many different diseases that require an individual approach to treatment.

  • For Chronic pain, stiffness and tension, heat treatment can help to loosen joints and relieve pain.
  • For acute pain, swelling, inflammation and bruising, as well as pain that is aggravated by activity, a cooling pad can provide relief; however, these pads should be wrapped in fabric and not applied directly on the skin.
  • Where overuse or an inflammation is involved, it makes sense to immobilise the hand first. Juzo also has a wide selection of other orthoses for any affected area.

Treatment with medical products

Orthoses are primarily used for immobilisation and stabilisation. If the goal is to preserve mobility while providing support and relieving strain on the hand during movement, supports should be used. This counteracts swelling and can pave the way back to pain-free movement.

Relief and stabilisation: JuzoPro hand orthoses 

With their high-quality materials that are precisely tailored to the field of application, JuzoPro orthoses provide optimal wearing comfort and functionality. Depending on the indication, the wrist, individual finger joints or the metacarpophalangeal and carpometacarpal joint can be relieved and stabilised, or the mobility of the individual joints can be restricted or prevented. These orthoses are tailored to the requirements of the given treatment and thus also support sustainable treatment success. 

Hand with JuzoPro Manu Xtec Palmar wrist orthosis

Compressive and mobilising: JuzoFlex wrist supports 

Wrist supports combine optimal protection and stabilisation for strained wrists. The compressive pressure counteracts swelling, compensates for muscle disbalance and stabilises tendons and ligaments without limiting the wrist’s and fingers’ freedom of movement. Integrated silicone pads ensure even pressure distribution, relieve pressure-sensitive areas and provide a massage-like effect that can reduce the likelihood of postoperative oedema, and thus improve joint mobility. 

Hand with JuzoFlex Manu Xtra wrist supports

Physiotherapy, occupational therapy and lymphatic drainage

Therapeutic measures such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy are primarily used after operations and injuries to restore and permanently secure the functionality and full mobility of the hand. In addition to passive exercises, where the therapist performs the movements, in most cases you will also be shown suitable exercises you can do at home. Lymphatic drainage can help reduce swelling and stimulate the healing process.

Exercises for hand pain

There are a range of different exercises that can be used to help combat wrist or finger pain when it occurs. However, these exercises should be chosen individually based on the specific trigger of the pain.

If the trigger is arthrosis (joint wear and tear), for example, then finger mobility can be maintained and promoted through regular loosening and finger exercises. 

Muscle contractions and trapped fasciae can also increase tension on the wrist. Regularly stretching your fingers and wrists can help to gradually release the tension in your forearm.

Medication-based treatment

Anti-inflammatory painkillers in the form of ointments or tablets are used as a temporary measure to help combat hand pain. Pain therapy should, however, preferably not be a long-term solution. It is therefore important to identify the exact trigger of the pain, to treat it and to prevent the condition from progressing over time. The immune system can also be suppressed with medication if the pain and discomfort is triggered by an immune response (autoimmune disease).

Surgical procedures 

In many cases, surgery is performed as a result of an acute injury, such as a broken bone, a ligament injury or a tendon injury with nerve and/or tendon damage. Constriction of nerves and tendons may also make surgical intervention necessary, however. A comprehensive treatment process that includes optimally coordinated orthopaedics, hand and trauma surgery and scar management products promotes the best possible treatment outcome. 

After an operation, it is important that the resulting wound heals optimally in order to mitigate any new or lingering restrictions to function or movement. Compression garments can be used to improve the quality of the post-surgical scar. The seamless ScarPrime Seamless glove is available for post-operative care once the wound has healed, and a custom-made ScarComfort glove is available for long-term care.

One important component of treating scars involves the use of silicone in conjunction with compression garments. Medical silicone allows a moist environment to develop on the scar, meaning that it doesn’t dry out. The silicone keeps the scar soft and has a beneficial effect on scar tissue. There are two different Juzo silicone products available for scar therapy: Juzo Silon®-TEX– a medical silicone layer on a textile base material, which is sewn directly into the compression garment – and the Juzo ScarPad – a self-adhesive silicone sheet that can be cut to size.

In addition, orthoses such as the JuzoPro Manu Xtec Palmar, the JuzoPro Palmar Xtec Rhizo or the JuzoPro Palmar Xtec Digitus are used during the healing process to immobilise and relieve the strain on the surgical site.

A woman sits on the kitchen counter. She is wearing a scar thoracic care


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A bakery saleswoman wears a wrist bandage

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