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Several approaches can be used to relieve hand cramps, and to prevent or reduce the occurrence of cramps in the hands. If hand cramps become extremely frequent or severe, a doctor should be consulted, as the cramps may be a sign of an underlying problem which needs to be addressed. Patients should also be aware that certain medications such as chemotherapy drugs can cause cramps, in which case they should be discussed with a doctor along with other side effects.
If hand cramps are induced by an activity, the best thing to do is to stop to allow the muscle to relax. Sometimes hand cramps occur randomly, and with no apparent cause, in which case they are often caused by activities which occurred earlier, or by holding hands in uncomfortable positions. Assuming that the hands are not too painful to be touched, gentle stretching can relieve the cramps, as can flexing and moving the fingers. Light massage of hot spots may also help with cramping in the hands.
Some people find that using a warm soak or a hot compress can ease hand cramps. Warmth tends to encourage muscles to relax, allowing them to stop cramping. The warmth can also make it easier to massage and stretch the hand to deal with cramps. Taking muscle relaxants or analgesic drugs like aspirin can also help people cope with cramps.
In some cases, cramping can be alleviated with the use of a hand exerciser or stress ball. These tools are gently squeezed in the hand to encourage the muscles to tense and release, with the goal of resolving the cramp. Hand exercisers can also be used on a routine basis to reduce the incidence of hand cramps, especially in people who engage in tasks which strain the hands on a regular basis.
Some preventative approaches to hand cramps include wearing splints and supports during exercise and other activities, or while sleeping, along with regularly flexing and stretching the hands. Typists, musicians, and other people who use their hands a lot should try to remember to take breaks every hour or so to stretch the hands and shake them out with the goal of reducing cramping and repetitive stress injuries. It is also important to hold hands in safe positions while working on intensive tasks.
People who experience cramps in the hands caused by arthritis, medications, and neurological conditions should consult a doctor to talk about treatment options. Medications and special exercises may be able to help with cramping.