Why Does My Hand Hurt?

October 10, 2022 | By: Raleigh Orthopaedic Team

Our hands serve many purposes, from sending texts to typing, gardening, or playing sports, and soreness in fingers, wrists, or the entire hand is bound to occur.

Apart from performing a multitude of complex tasks, our hands contain many structures including bones, tendons, nerves, ligaments, and joints. Treatment for hand pain will differ depending on the type of injury, so understanding the cause is an important first step to healing.

Hand or Wrist Fracture

A broken hand or wrist can be caused by a fall, crash injury, twisting injury, or direct contact in sports. For example, when someone falls and lands on an outstretched hand or wrist, the force from the fall — in combination with the angle of the wrist — may be strong enough to cause a fracture or break. Some symptoms of wrist injuries are easy to disregard, especially if the pain is still bearable. However, it all starts with pain and discomfort, which could progress to the swelling of the wrist, along with some numbness, dullness, or tingling sensation.

Symptoms of Hand Wrist Fractures

Symptoms of a hand or wrist fracture vary depending on the location and severity of the break. Common signs and symptoms may include:

  • Swelling, tenderness or pain
  • Bruising or discoloration
  • Deformity
  • Numbness in the hand
  • Inability to move the finger(s)
  • Shortened finger
  • The injured finger crosses or “scissors” over its neighbor when making a partial fist

If you think you have broken your hand or finger, get immediate access to care at one of our convenient orthopedic urgent care centers.



Tendonitis is the swelling and irritation of a tendon caused by an injury or overuse. Hand Wrist tendonitis can lead to weakness, inflammation, swelling, and pain in the hand or wrist.

The most common forms of Hand Wrist tendonitis are:

  • DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis – The most common type of tenosynovitis disorder, which causes pain and swelling in the tendon sheath of the tendons in the thumb.
  • Trigger finger or trigger thumb A type of tenosynovitis where the tendon sheath becomes inflamed and thickened, making it hard to bend or straighten the finger or thumb. The finger or thumb may lock or “trigger” suddenly.

Causes of Tendonitis

The cause of tendonitis and tenosynovitis are usually caused by strain, overuse, injury, or repetitive movements. Tendonitis may also be related to conditions such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Gout
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Thyroid issues
  • Infection

 Symptoms of Hand Wrist Tendonitis

Aside from pain and swelling, you may experience the following symptoms of Hand Wrist tendonitis:

  • Reduced strength or stiffness
  • Inability to bear weight
  • Muscle fatigue and cramping
  • Tearing, popping, or snapping
  • Bruising and warmth

Ligament Injury

Ligaments are bands of fibrous tissue that attach bones to one another. Ligaments also help keep structures, like joints, secure and in the correct position. Wrist and hand sprains occur when the bands of connective tissue between the bones of the wrist (ligaments) are overstretched beyond their regular range of motion.

Symptoms of a Ligament Injury

  • Pain that increases with movement
  • A popping sound when you move your hand or finger(s)
  • Swelling and bruising of the affected area


Nerve Injury

Compression, injury, irritation, and medical conditions can all cause nerve pain in the hands. Common examples of such conditions include:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – also called median nerve compression, is a common condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and arm. Compression usually occurs from the thickening of an irritated tendon or from swelling that narrows the tunnel. People affected by diabetes or other metabolic disorders that may make them susceptible to nerve compression are also at high risk of developing the syndrome.

Neuropathy – occurs when nerve cells (neuros) are destroyed or damaged. This disrupts communications between the neurons and the brain.  Tingling, pain, or muscle weakness are common symptoms of neuropathy.

Acute Nerve Injuries – If you accidentally crush your hand, like in the car door, or cut your fingers, you may experience nerve damage. Any numbness or tingling after such an event should be immediately examined by a doctor.

Signs of Nerve Injury

  • Shooting pain throughout the nerve or at an injury site
  • Loss of sensation in affected area
  • Weakness during hand movements
  • Numbness or tingling


A joint is formed when two or more bones come together. Cartilage at the end of each bone provides cushion and a sliding surface for movement. The most common causes of arthritis of the Hand Wrist are disease and trauma.

Osteoarthritis – a chronic, noninflammatory disorder that is more prevalent in adults over the age of 40. Wear and tear progress slowly and usually affect areas such as the wrists and hands, and can limit range of motion in addition to the pain.

Rheumatoid Arthritis – a chronic, autoimmune disorder that causes swelling of the joints and can deform the affected joints over time.

Bursitis – inflammation of the small, fluid-filled sacs that cushion the bones and tendons near your joints.

Dislocation – misalignment of the bones in the joint. While joint dislocations are common in fingers, they can also happen in the knuckles and wrist. Dislocations are frequently the result of a fall onto an outstretched hand, contact sports, or vehicle accidents.

Symptoms of Joint Related Pain

  • Stiffness upon waking up or after periods of stillness
  • Tenderness, sensitivity, and swelling
  • Difficulty bending the affected portion of the hand
  • A grating or grinding sensation

Other Potential Causes of Hand Pain

Ganglion Cysts – noncancerous lumps that develop along the tendons or joints of your wrists or hands. They are typically round or oval, containing a jellylike substance. A ganglion cyst grows out of the tissues surrounding a joint including ligaments, tendon sheaths, and joint linings. If a cyst puts pressure on the nerve that passes through the joint, you may experience:

  • Mild pain
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Muscle weakness

Edema –inflammation, swelling or fluid collection in the hand. Edema may be the result of medication usage, pregnancy, or underlying diseases such as kidney disease or cirrhosis of the liver.

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At Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic, we are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of hand or wrist-related injuries and conditions. Backed by years of experience, our orthopedic surgeons are equipped to perform a complete range of nonsurgical and surgical procedures and will determine the treatment path best suited to your individual needs. If you are dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome or you’d like more information about our orthopedic services, contact us to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations in Wake County today.

 The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your