What Causes Pain in the Hand?

Updated November 21, 2016

The hand is very vulnerable. It has very little protection and is made up of many small bones. The hands are frequently overworked and subjected to blows from outside influences or from falls. The result is that your hands can sustain injury and hurt due to numerous factors.


If you have an infection in your hand, its inflammation can cause pain. Infection can come from any number of organisms including pseudomonas, enterobacteria, staphylococcus aureu and streptococci. If infection is present, you may feel a throbbing pain, experience redness and swelling in your hand, find that moving your hand is painful and you have a fever. If pus has formed in your infected hand, it needs to be treated and removed. Pus can destroy skin, tendons and other tissue.


If you are experiencing severe pain at the base of your thumb, you may have a Bennett fracture. The bone that is fractured is the first metacarpal, according to The fracture includes the lower part of this bone and extends into the joint. The smaller fragment of the fracture stays attached to the wrist bone, whereas the larger fragment is displaced along with the entire thumb. This causes pain, swelling and tenderness.

Blood Flow

If the blood flow in your hand is blocked, this can result in compartment syndrome. The muscles in your body are enclosed by tough tissue called fascia, which divides the muscles into separate segments. Blood supply can be completely blocked if the pressure is too much and this can result in death of the tissues in the nerves, skin and muscles in that particular compartment.

When there is dead tissue present, it is absorbed into the body and fibrous tissues form, which contract and pull the hand into a deformed position. This can cause paralysis in your hand and can result in permanently flexed fingers and wrists.

Men at Risk

Men are 10 times more likely than women to be stricken with Dupuytren contracture, a disease involving the tissue under the skin of the palm. The tissue becomes resilient and tough and contracts. This generally occurs between the ages of 50 and 70 and is more likely to occur if you have epilepsy or diabetes.

Other Sources of Pain

Rheumatoid or osteoarthritis can cause pain in the hands and fingers, as can fibromyalgia, which affects the muscles. Mallet finger, or baseball finger, occurs when something strikes the end of your finger and bends it backward forcefully, causing a partial tendon tear.

Navicular fracture can occur in the wrist and is often misdiagnosed as a sprained wrist. A very small bone, if it isn't treated properly, the navicular bone can scrape and rub. Skier's thumb occurs when force of some kind pulls the thumb away from the fingers, which results in a ligament tear that connects the thumb to the metacarpal bone.

Overuse and Other Possibilities

Tendinitis results from overuse of the hand and ends up in swelling pain, tenderness and loss of motion in the hands and fingers. You may hear a cracking sound when you bend your fingers or write.

Ganglions are cysts that can develop near joints or tendons. The ganglions may resolve themselves or can be surgically removed.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the large nerve in the wrist as it passes from the hand to the forearm through tendon-formed tunnels. This causes numbness and tingling.

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About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.