Living With Hand Pain

Individuals who suffer from chronic hand pain may find it difficult to adjust to the changes and cope with the challenges that the condition presents.

Man hand pain

Activities

If there are certain activities that tend to cause or worsen symptoms of hand pain, it is recommended to reduce the frequency of these tasks or alter them so that the pain is more bearable.

For example, it may be helpful to reduce the speed and duration of fine hand movement activities such as typing, writing or sewing. It is also helpful to change the position of the hands frequently during stationary activities such as reading.

Additionally, when trying to grasp an object, it is preferable to use the entire hand, rather than just the thumb and index finger. This helps to spread the weight of the object and reduces the stress on the wrist.

Occupation

If individuals who suffer from hand pain work in environments that commonly involve stress to the hands due to repetitive tasks or the equipment used, protective gear may be useful. Supportive gloves for the wrists that absorb vibration are often recommended, as well as wrist guards during sports.

For people who work in an office or need to type at a keyboard frequently for their job, hand pain can be difficult to manage. It is useful to position the keyboard correctly with the forearms parallel to or slightly lowered towards the floor and to keep the wrists above the fingers. It is important to take frequent breaks and to stretch the fingers and hands regularly.

keyboard hand position

Keyboard hand posture

Environment

Exposure to extremely cold temperatures can often make hand pain worse. When going outside when the weather is cold, patients may find it useful to wear gloves to protect their hands. An insulating cover to protect hands can also help when grasping cold objects, such as a cold beverage.

Diet

There are some foods and drinks that can also contribute to worsening of pain. For example, tobacco and products that contain caffeine, such as coffee and tea, can cause narrowing of the bleed vessels. Hand pain may then worsen due to a reduction in blood flow to the area.

On the other hand, other foods can be beneficial to prevent hand pain. Eating a hot meal before going outside in the cold winter months can help to maintain body temperature and prevent worsening of pain.

Posture

The way that you hold your body is also important to promote hand health and prevent or reduce pain. The following tips may be beneficial:

  • Change your body position regularly
  • Position your work or activity in a comfortable place in relation to your body
  • Relax your shoulders when in a resting position

Support

People with severe hand pain may feel frustrated with their reduced ability to get things done, particularly activities involving fine hand movements, as compared to before. This has the potential to lead to psychological disorders such as depression if adequate coping mechanisms are not put into place.

Patients may benefit from the help of an occupational therapist, who can help them to devise new ways to get the tasks they need to do completed. This may involve alternative methods to do activities, or the use of tools or gadgets to assist with these tasks.

The support of family and friends is also important to encourage patients to keep going. A counselor or psychologist may be able to provide additional support for some individuals who are struggling with changes related to chronic hand pain.

Reviewed by Liji Thomas, MD

References

  1. http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/where-it-hurts/wrist-hand-and-finger-pain/wrist-hand-and-finger-care/prevent-hand-wrist-pain.php
  2. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/handp#aa3381
  3. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/handp#aa3426
  4. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00696

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jan 13, 2017

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