Common Causes of Hand Pain

Arizona Repetitive Stress Injury BikingMost of the time, we take our hands for granted. They perform tasks for us from the moment we awaken ’til we’re ready for bed and we rarely even notice them. Until they hurt.

Maybe it’s a shooting pain in your wrist. Or your thumb or index finger have locked up. Or you perform a task you’ve performed all your life, but now it’s painful. Or you can’t fully move your fingers or wrists.

There are 27 bones in the wrist, hands, and fingers, plus numerous tendons, muscles, and ligaments, any of which can become damaged and cause pain.

Being aware of some of the most common causes of hand pain and wrist pain will help you keep your bones, ligaments, and joints in working order. If you do experience an acute or chronic injury to the hand or wrist, Michael J. Fitzmaurice, MD, and his team at the Fitzmaurice Hand Institute in Phoenix, Arizona can help with on-the-spot diagnosis and treatment.

The following situations may be at the root of your hand, finger or wrist pain and may require the services of a hand and wrist surgeon to resolve:

1. Impact and Trauma

Among the more obvious causes of wrist, hand, thumb, and finger pain are impact and trauma. A fall, a blow to the hand, or accidentally cutting or burning the hand can all cause pain. Although the pain may be transitory, the damage to the nerves, tendons, muscles, skin, and even bone could cause problems down the line. Even excessive pressure and vibration, such as the vibrations in equipment or when riding a motorcycle, can cause damage.

Some results of impact and trauma include:


Open fractures are easy to identify, as the bone or joint looks misshapen and/or the bone breaks the skin. Hairline fractures can also occur, however, and can compromise the function of the hand and wrist over time. Signs that hand trauma has resulted in a fracture include:

  • Swelling or bruising (dark blue, purple and/or yellow or green)
  • Deformity
  • Pain that worsens with movement or pressure
  • Loss of function
  • Protruding bone

If you suspect you have suffered a hand fracture, you should receive immediate emergency medical care from a hand specialist such as Dr. Fitzmaurice at our Hand & Wrist Urgent Care center in Scottsdale, Arizona.


Even if there are no broken bones, a fall or a blow to the hands or wrists may cause a sprain, which is a tear or injury to the ligaments that connect two bones in a joint. The symptoms of a hand or finger sprain include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Limited movement
  • “Popping” sound in joint at time of injury

Scottsdale Hand Wrist Irritation TreatmentStrains

Strains are a stretching or tearing of muscles or tendons (the cords that connect muscles to bones). The symptoms of a wrist or hand strain include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Muscle spasms
  • Limited muscle motion

At-home treatment for hand or wrist sprains and strains includes elevation, icing every 20 minutes for the first 24 hours, rest, and compression. If there is no improvement, surgery may be required to repair damaged ligaments, muscles and/or tendons.

2. Repetitive Motions

Repeating the same movements day after day can wear down the joints, compress important nerves, and cause stress on muscles and tendons. Driving, typing, texting, using tools, and playing musical instruments can all injure the wrists, hands, and fingers over time. Some consequences of repetitive movements may include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Stress fractures
  • Weakness
  • “Locked” fingers or thumbs (trigger finger/trigger thumb)
  • Tennis elbow
  • De Quervain’s tendinitis
  • Nerve compression

3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Repetitive movements — particularly ones that exert pressure on the wrist — are the primary culprit in carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve that runs from the forearm to the fingers is compressed when the tissues surrounding it become inflamed. Symptoms include:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Sharp, shooting pains

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated with EndoTech® — a single-incision, minimally invasive high-tech surgery developed by Dr. Fitzmaurice that speeds recovery and limits recurrence of the condition. Learn more about CTS at

4. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Pressure or vibration can irritate, injure or compress the ulnar nerve, which carries signals to the muscles of the forearm and hand. Damage can occur in the palm or the elbow. The symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling (esp. in little fingers)
  • Weakness
  • Clumsiness

Cubital tunnel syndrome can be diagnosed and treated in one day with EndoTech®.

4. Cysts, Tumors, and Other Growths

Scottsdale Hand Wrist Elbow DamageMost lumps and bumps that arise on the wrists, hands, fingers, and thumbs are benign and can be easily removed. Some types of growths include:

Ganglion cyst — a small, benign soft-tissue lump, often found on the wrist, that is caused by leakage of fluid from the joint into surrounding tissues.

Fibroma — benign tumor made of fibrous cells and found on a tendon sheath.

Neuroma — usually painful, benign tumors made of nerve cells that are a consequence of a nerve injury.

Lipoma — fat cells in a thin, fibrous, fast-growing capsule usually located just below the skin.

Giant cell tumor — hard, solid mass affecting tendon sheaths.

A medical professional can diagnose the type of lump, bump or mass you have. They can usually be easily removed the same day in an outpatient surgery.

5. Systemic and/or Inflammatory Conditions

Some hand and wrist conditions may have a systemic or an inflammatory disorder at their root. Conditions that may result in hand, finger, thumb or wrist pain include:

  • Gout
  • Arthritis (both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Diabetes mellitus

Symptoms or signs that your hand pain has a systemic or inflammatory cause may include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Numbness
  • Red or purplish skin around affected joint
  • Limited movement
  • Peeling skin around affected joint
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Hands feeling bloated or “dead”
  • Swollen joints
  • Creaky joints
  • Dupuytren’s Contracture (nodules or cords that develop on connective tissue, making it impossible to extend the fingers)
  • De Quervain’s tendinitis (inflammation of the tendons in the first dorsal compartment near the thumb)
    Trigger finger and/or thumb

Get Answers and Solutions in One Stop, One Day

If you are experiencing thumb, finger, hand, wrist, arm or elbow pain, you deserve an answer and a remedy. The Fitzmaurice Hand Institute can handle everything from diagnosis to treatment in one location in Scottsdale near Phoenix. We’re open from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. Schedule an appointment today.

If you have an emergency, visit Hand & Wrist Urgent Care in the same building, 8841 E. Bell Rd. Ste. #102 Scottsdale, AZ 85260. We will evaluate you within 10 minutes of your arrival. Walk-ins are welcome.

Fitzmaurice Hand Institute
8841 E Bell Rd #201
Scottsdale, AZ 85260