Muscle Wasting in the Hand

hand image by cegli from

When muscle wasting is discussed, often the hand is not the first thought. However, in certain conditions, the hand muscles can waste away, leaving an individual with a weak grip and a lack of coordination.


Muscle wasting is most often characterised as a loss of muscle mass, muscle strength or extremity size. In addition, pain and a loss of coordination may be seen when the muscles of the hand begin to waste or deteriorate.


Muscle wasting in the hand can be caused by a large number of conditions. A common condition that causes muscle wasting in the hand is compression or entrapment of the ulnar nerve. This condition can be caused by an injury, bone spurs, cysts or swelling of the elbow joint. Other causes can be cysts or lesions. Strokes may also play a roll in muscle wasting in the hand as well as a lack of use.


A doctor may request several tests to find the cause of the muscle wasting in the hand. These tests may include blood work, X-rays or MRI scans. In addition strength and stress tests may be able to track the changes in the muscle strength. Regular measurements can track the muscle and hand size.

Corrective Treatment

Depending on the cause of the hand muscle wasting, a treatment plan can be determined. In some cases, exercise and physical or occupational therapy may be enough to correct the problem. In other cases treatment of inflammation may be necessary. In extreme cases, surgery may become necessary.


Prevention is the key to avoiding injury and muscle wasting. It is important to sleep with a strait arm in order to minimise the stress on the ulnar nerve. In addition, avoid bumping or injuring the elbow can also help to minimise the chances of hand muscle wasting. In addition the frequent use of the hands can help to reduce the chances of muscle deterioration. Finally, living a healthy lifestyle can prevent illness, including the stroke that may cause hand muscle deterioration.

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