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Hand Pain and Problems

The hand is made up of many different bones, muscles, and ligaments that allow for a large amount of movement and dexterity. There are 3 major types of bones in the hand itself, including:

  • Phalanges. The 14 bones that are found in the fingers of each hand and also in the toes of each foot. Each finger has 3 phalanges (the distal, middle, and proximal). Only the thumb has 2 phalanges.
  • Metacarpal bones. The 5 bones that make up the middle part of the hand.
  • Carpal bones. The 8 bones that create the wrist. The carpal bones are connected to 2 bones of the arm, the ulnar bone and the radius bone.

Many muscles, ligaments, and sheaths can be found within the hand. The muscles are the structures that can contract, allowing movement of the bones in the hand. The ligaments are fibrous tissues that help bind together the joints in the hand. The sheaths are tubular structures that surround part of the fingers.

What are common hand problems?

There are many common hand problems that can interfere with activities of daily living (ADLs). They include:

Arthritis is loss of joint cartilage, often with inflammation, pain and stiffness. It can occur in many areas of the hand and wrist. Arthritis of the hand can be very painful.

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis in the hands. It may be caused by normal use of the hand. Or it may develop after an injury. Osteoarthritis often develops in one of 3 places: the base of the thumb, at the end joint closest to the finger tip, or at the middle joint of a finger.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Stiffness
  • Swelling and pain
  • Bony nodules at the middle or end joints of the finger
  • Pain and possibly swelling at the base of the thumb
  • Loss of strength in the fingers and the grip of the hand

Treatment for osteoarthritis includes:

  • Over-the-counter pain and fever medicines (NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Resting the affected hand
  • Wearing splints at night
  • Using heat to soothe the pain
  • Using ice to reduce swelling
  • Possible cortisone injections
  • Possible surgery when no other treatments work

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call:

  • SBL Bonutti Clinic at 217 342-3400, or
  • SBL Orthopedics & Sports Medicine at 217 238-3435

Hand pain