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The next time you give someone a high five, think of this - each of your hands is a complex structure of 27 bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. The appendages are almost wholly unique to primates, which gives you the ability to do pretty much everything.
Hand injuries like a bone break or a fracture can take you out of commission for a while, but what about general hand pain that is not associated with an impact injury?
There are multiple causes of common hand pain, and luckily for patients, a multitude of ways are present to treat it without a medicine.
Common Causes Of Hand Pain
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A long nerve called the median nerve runs along your forearm to your hand, passes through a narrow corridor in your wrist called the carpal tunnel. Overtime, especially if your wrist or hand has repeated the same motion over and over, the carpal tunnel can become inflamed, narrower and pinches that vulnerable nerve. In addition to the sensations of numbness and weakness, you might experience mild-to-severe pain right around the base of your thumb and in your palm.
This incredibly common affliction for both young and older people can actually affect joints all over the body. Older adults, however, often experience arthritis pain in their hands from the swelling of joints in the wrist and fingers. Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis sufferers will often complain of hand pain specifically when trying to grab, pick up or grasp items with their hands.
Swelling Of Tendons
Tendons located around the wrist, at the base side of the thumb, can become inflamed with overuse and awkward positioning for a long period of time. As the tendons swell, they place pressure on the surrounding nerves and tissues - this causes not only pain in the hand, but radiating pain up the forearm as well. Not only is grasping and holding items difficult with this type of a hand injury, but making a fist and rotating your fist also proves to be difficult.
Speaking of the tendons in your hands, those which control the bending and straightening of your fingers actually contain a sheath (thick membrane) around them to aid the smooth gliding and movement of bones and tendons. When that sheath becomes inflamed, that tendon has more and more difficulty moving smoothly. What happens then is that the finger gets locked in a bent position and snaps and pops when you try to straighten it. This results in pain and limited range of motion.
Natural Treatments For Hand Pain
Many methods of treatment for these common causes of hand pain don't involve medicine, painkillers, or invasive action. In fact, a host of natural remedies and measures can make a significant impact.
Depending on the type of injury you have, wearing a brace or splint may provide relief in a handful of ways, it can stabilize the affected area, limiting the range of motion and preventing exacerbation of an existing injury, it can also apply compression to help reduce swelling and inflammation.
A trigger thumb brace, for example, is small, lightweight and keeps your thumb or other affected fingers straight and prevents them from locking up. A carpal tunnel brace, on the other hand, will slide over the entire wrist and the bottom of your hand to help stabilize the nerve pressure and relieve pain.
Applying a cold compress or ice pack to the swollen tendon, joint or muscle not only temporarily numbs the area, but it narrows blood vessels, helping to relieve inflammation that was causing the pain.
Once the ice is removed, blood rushes back in and flushes out built-up waste byproducts and toxins and delivers vital nutrients to vulnerable tissues in the hand and joints to aid repair and pain relief.
Especially for arthritis pain, some over-the-counter topical aids (creams, gels, ointments, rubs, etc.) offer temporary analgesic effects which diminishes pain sensations.
Often times made with natural plant-based compounds like arnica, menthol and capsaicin, topical pain relievers can be applied regularly to painful joints and muscles. But they don't provide a long-term solution. Topical aids are most effective when combined with other avenues like ice therapy and splinting.
Massaging the pressure points around the entire body feels good, from the back, to the feet, legs, and neck. Similarly, hand massage plays an important role in both helping you relax and relieving pain.
Massaging the joints and muscles in the hands helps boost blood circulation to those areas, breaks down scar tissues, and loosens stiff joints and tendons. A hand massage followed by ice therapy can aid symptoms associated with everything, from trigger finger to osteoarthritis.
Flexibility exercises aren't just for your arms and legs, you should stretch your fingers too! Stretching and strengthening hands and fingers can reinforce susceptible and weak tissues and tendons in the hand, as well as lengthen and loosen stiff joints and muscles.
Stronger hand strength means easier gripping, handling, holding and releasing, even when you have a minor hand injury.
The writer is Joe Fleming, President at ViveHealth.com