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Getting A Grip On Common Hand Conditions
10 Aug 2007
As edited by Joint-Pain-Forum.com
When a wrist hurts, it could be carpal tunnel syndrome -- or
something else. Over time, many conditions can affect crucial parts of
the hands, causing everything from pain to the loss of normal function.
The August issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource offers an overview of common hand conditions and treatments:
Thumb arthritis: This occurs when the joint at the wrist and base of
the thumb develops osteoarthritis. It's more common after age 40. A
combination of factors, including aging, joint injury or stress, and
heredity may lead to thumb arthritis.
Carpal tunnel syndrome: This can start with a vague aching in the wrist
that can extend to the hand or up to the arm. Other symptoms can
include tingling or numbness in the fingers, especially at night. Over
time, the hand can become weak or numb. Too much time at the keyboard
often is blamed for this condition. But any activity that requires the
repeated flexing and extending of the tendons in the hand or wrist or
repeated and prolonged gripping can cause the problem.
Ganglion cyst: These appear as raised fluid-filled lumps near the wrist
or finger joints. They are noncancerous and typically develop along the
tendons or joints of the wrist and hands. Often, they are painless, but
not always. Ganglion cysts also can cause pain, weakness or numbness in
the hand if they put pressure on nerves near a joint. The cause of
ganglion cysts isn't clear. The risk may be great in people with
osteoarthritis or with injured joints or tendons in the hands.
Trigger finger: This condition -- stenosing tenosynovitis -- is
typically a painful condition in which one finger or thumb catches in
the bent position. In severe cases, the finger may become locked in
bent or straight position. The cause is a thickening of the liner, or
sheath, which surrounds the tendon in the affected finger. Trigger
finger tends to be more common in people whose work or hobby requires
repetitive gripping motions, or those who have rheumatoid arthritis,
diabetes or hypothyroidism.
Tendonitis of the wrist: The most common symptoms of wrist tendonitis,
called de Quervain's tenosynovitis, are pain and swelling about a
half-inch back from the base of the thumb. Pinching, grasping or other
thumb and wrist movement may aggravate the pain. Without treatment, the
pain may spread in the thumb, forearm or both. Wrist tendonitis is
caused by irritation and swelling of the sheath that surrounds the
major tendons connecting the wrist and lower thumb. It can result from
overuse of the wrist and thumb together. Often called the "new
mother's" disease, it is common in new parents who pick up infants with
their thumbs out and wrists bent backwards.
Treatment for these conditions should start with talking to a doctor
about pain, swelling or discomfort in the hands and wrists. Depending
on the diagnosis, treatment options include self-care (applying heat
and cold), physical therapy, medications to reduce pain and swelling,
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