Hand Pain: Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Healing Cycle & Treatment

Treatment of Hand Pain

Introduction

Certain occupational activities like excessive computer work can elicit hand pain, which is a common occurrence among people who performed excessive hand-related activities. (1) Several inflammatory conditions such as hand osteoarthritis may also contribute to the occurrence of hand pain. (2) The following sections describe the causes, risk factors, symptoms, and effective and ineffective treatments for hand pain. 

Causes of Hand Pain

Following are the different causes associated with the development of hand pain. 

  1. Hand injuries 
  2. Ganglion cysts 
  3. Arthritis
  4. Osteoarthritis 
  5. Trigger finger
  6. De Quervain tenosynovitis 
  7. Carpal tunnel syndrome 

Risk Factors of Hand Pain

Following are the different risk factors that contribute to the development of hand pain. 

  1. Individuals with diabetes mellitus 
  2. Hormonal changes such as during pregnancy and menopause 
  3. Imbalance in the thyroid gland 
  4. Individuals who suffer from obesity
  5. Hereditary 
  6. Repetitive activities 

Symptoms of Hand Pain

Individuals suffering from hand pain may present with the symptoms listed below. 

  1. Weak hand grip
  2. Sensation of pain, tingling, burning, and numbness of index, ring, thumb, and middle fingers
  3. Dropping objects from hand 

Normal Healing Cycle 

The normal cycle is made of three major phases that include the inflammation stage, the proliferation stage, and the maturation stage. In order to identify and understand effective treatment mechanisms for hand pain, one must understand the mechanisms underlying the three stages of the normal healing cycle. The description of each stage of the healing cycle is given as follows. (3)

  1. The initial phase of the healing cycle is the inflammation phase, during which the inflammatory cells at the site of injury release inflammatory cells and cytokines as a response to injurious stimuli. These substances subsequently recruit immune cells, which arrive at the site of injury in order to eliminate the injurious stimuli. The cardinal signs of inflammation are swelling, warmth, redness, loss of function, and pain.
  2. The second phase of the healing cycle is the proliferation phase. The mechanisms underlying this phase include re-epithelization, synthesis of extracellular matrix, collagen deposition by the proliferating fibroblasts, and the formation of new blood vessels by a process known as angiogenesis. It is during this stage of the healing cycle that excessive scar tissue, muscle trigger points, fascia restrictions, and muscle spasm occur. These events reflect chronic conditions and disruption in the normal progression of the proliferation phase. 
  3. The last of the healing cycle is the maturation phase. During this phase, wound contraction, scar formation, and deposition of collagen type I occurs. The resolution of the maturation stage of the healing reflects the completion of the healing. In chronic conditions, however, the healing cycle moves back and forth between the inflammation and proliferation phases and fails to attain resolution. 

Ineffective Treatments of Hand Pain

A variety of treatment methods are used at home and even in clinics for relieving hand pain. These treatment modalities only provide short-term pain relief and some of them may even exacerbate hand pain. The ineffective treatments are listed as follows. 

  1. Application of ice and heat therapy 
  2. Electrical stimulation on the hand 
  3. Massage therapy 
  4. Massage therapy with a foam roller
  5. Stretching of the hand 
  6. Strength exercises during the inflammation stage of healing 
  7. Mobilization of the hand 

Effective Treatments of Hand Pain

Following are the different therapeutic approaches to the treatment and management of hand pain. 

Avoidance of Repetitive Motions

One shall avoid repetitive movement of his or her hand in order to promote healing and alleviation of hand pain. 

Resolution of the Inflammation Stage of the Healing Cycle 

The resolution of the inflammation stage of the healing cycle is integral to the alleviation of hand pain. Follows measures are useful for the proper inflammation phase of the healing cycle. 

  1. An individual must rest his or her hand for a sufficient period and prevent excessive straining in order to promote healing. 
  2. An individual must counter nutrient deficiencies as these may hinder the normal process of wound healing. The AskASTR program is useful for identifying nutrient deficiencies and recommending supplements for overcoming these deficiencies. 
  3. Another important way to promote normal progression and resolution of the inflammation phase of the healing cycle is to employ magnetic fields. The MagnaHeal device is made using neodymium that a rare earth magnet. The magnetic is coated with anti-inflammatory substances. MagnaHeal 1 has a magnetic force length of 2 inches and is used for the resolution of mild inflammation. On the contrary, MagnaHeal 2 has a magnetic force length of 3 inches and is used for the resolution of mild inflammation. (4)
  4. Consumption of an anti-inflammatory diet is also crucial to the resolution of the inflammatory stage of the healing cycle in hand pain. An anti-inflammatory diet is composed of lesser quantities of trans fat and refined sugars along with greater quantities of green tea, fruits, legumes, and other anti-inflammatory foods. (5)

Resolution of the Proliferation Stage of the Healing Cycle 

The resolution of the proliferation stage of the healing cycle is integral to the alleviation of hand pain. Follows measures are useful for the proper proliferation phase of the healing cycle. The following measures employ the use of ASTR Tools for manipulating fascia restrictions, muscle knots or trigger points, and scar tissue. 

  1. Fascia restrictions of the superficial and aponeurotic fascia layers can be released using the A1 Tool.
  2. Superficial trigger points and superficial scar tissue can be released using the A3 Tool.
  3. Deep trigger points, deep scar tissue, and fascia restrictions of the deeper fascia layers including endomysium, perimysium, and epimysium can be released using the A5 Tool. 

Conclusion 

Hand pain is a common occurrence in some occupational activities such as excessive computer work. It is also associated with autoimmune, hormonal, and inflammatory disorders such as osteoarthritis, pregnancy, Carpal tunnel syndrome, pregnancy, and diabetes mellitus. There are various traditional therapeutic approaches that individuals adopt for the alleviation of hand pain, however, these approaches are not as effective. Effective therapeutic approaches include avoidance of triggers and resolution of the inflammation and proliferation stages of the healing cycle. 

References 

  1. Lassen, C. F., Mikkelsen, S., Kryger, A. I., & Andersen, J. H. (2005). Risk factors for persistent elbow, forearm and hand pain among computer workers. Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health, 122-131
  2. Dahaghin, S., Bierma-Zeinstra, S. M., Ginai, A. Z., Pols, H. A. P., Hazes, J. M. W., & Koes, B. W. (2005). Prevalence and pattern of radiographic hand osteoarthritis and association with pain and disability (the Rotterdam study). Annals of the rheumatic diseases64(5), 682-687
  3. Grubbs H, Manna B. Wound Physiology. [Updated 2022 May 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK518964/
  4. Ross, C. L., & Harrison, B. S. (2013). Effect of pulsed electromagnetic field on inflammatory pathway markers in RAW 264.7 murine macrophages. Journal of inflammation research6, 45 
  5. Ricker, M. A., & Haas, W. C. (2017). Anti-Inflammatory Diet in Clinical Practice: A Review. Nutrition in clinical practice : official publication of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition32(3), 318–325. https://doi.org/10.1177/0884533617700353