Do you have this pins-and-needles feeling or pain in your hand that constantly bothers you at night? Sometimes, even the simple tasks that you do throughout your day, such as typing on your computer, cleaning your room, or rearranging your furniture, can haunt you with hand pain just when you’re about to hit the sack.
So, what could be causing your hands to hurt, especially at night? There are a number of conditions that cause hand pain, but here are two of the most common.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The median nerve is the main nerve that runs from your forearm into your hand. This nerve is responsible for carrying messages between your brain, spinal cord, and hand, and for prompting muscle movement. The median nerve is housed by the carpal tunnel, which is a narrow passageway surrounded by ligaments and bones located in the palm side of your hand.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that occurs when the tissues and tendons around your carpal tunnel become swollen or damaged, causing pressure on your median nerve. The exact cause of CTS is unknown, but it has been linked with jobs and activities that involve constant use of your hands, repetitive flexing of your wrist, or heavy use of vibrating tools.
CTS is more prevalent in women and people between 30 and 60 years of age. Other factors that may increase your risk of developing CTS include wrist fractures, fluid retention caused by hormonal changes, obesity, and certain medications.
CTS is characterized by pain that may feel like a pulse of electric shock, a deep ache, a burning sensation, or numbness that may radiate up your arms. These symptoms usually develop over time and typically affect the thumb, index, and middle fingers, and half of the ring finger. They are often more pronounced at night, when temperatures are cold, or when you use fine motor skills, such as grasping and gripping.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should see a hand surgeon, especially if they are interfering with your normal activities and disrupting your sleep. Without treatment, symptoms can become worse and may lead to permanent nerve and muscle damage.
Arthritis is another common condition that affects your hand. It predominantly causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and a decreased range of motion that all can often worsen over time. Arthritis has 100 types, two of which are the most common culprits for hand pain:
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It can result from wear and tear, injury, or overuse. It causes the protective cartilage on the ends of your hand bones to gradually wear away, resulting in painful bone-on-bone rubbing. The condition also causes abnormal bone growths to develop in your hand joints, thereby increasing its symptoms.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that prompts your immune system to attack your hand joints, causing inflammation, pain, and swelling. It can also cause damage to other parts of your body such as internal organs, and it is one of the most serious and disabling types of arthritis.
Diagnosis and Treatment
It is important to get the correct diagnosis for hand pain, as treatments may vary. To get a definitive diagnosis, your doctor will conduct a medical examination to review your symptoms, medical history, and activities.
To diagnose CTS, your doctor will perform a wrist flexion test (Phalen test) to determine if there is pressure on your median nerve. Blood tests; diagnostic imaging such as X-ray, MRI, and bone scan; nerve conduction study; and electromyography (EMG) test may also be required.
Symptoms associated with both conditions can often be relieved without surgery. Arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome treatments can include rest, medications, pain management injections, and occupational and/or physical therapy. Your doctor may recommend that you wear a splint during the night to support your wrist in a neutral position or to protect it when you carry out activities that can aggravate your symptoms.
Surgery may be recommended if nonsurgical options do not work successfully or if the condition continues to progress. Your doctor will discuss surgical options with you based on your diagnosis and symptoms.
Hand Specialists in St. Peters and O’Fallon, Missouri
Are you in search of a highly-skilled, board-certified hand surgeon to give you comprehensive treatment for your hand pain? Consult any one of our hand surgeons at Advanced Bone & Joint. Our providers have extensive training and experience in diagnosing and treating all types of hand and wrist problems. They will perform a thorough evaluation and diagnosis to give you the appropriate treatment recommendation.