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How Do I Relieve Hand Cramps?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By AmberLianne — On Dec 11, 2014

Numbness in the hand and fingers could be a sign of carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is the narrow rigid tunnel on the palm side of your wrist that houses nine flexor tendons (bend the fingers and thumb) and one median nerve (controls feeling in thumb and all fingers but the pinky) and is covered by a strong band of connective tissue called the transverse carpal ligament.

Anything that makes this tunnel smaller and the tendons underneath irritated and inflamed (e.g., repetitive hand movements, diabetes, obesity, etc.) puts pressure on the median nerve, which in turn can produce tingling, cramping, numbness, hand weakness and pain. I highly recommend the ColdCure and BFST (blood flow stimulation therapy) Wrist Treatment. It has helped a lot of people I know and talk to every day.

By anon341980 — On Jul 16, 2013

People squeeze the object they're trying to control because they rely on the friction between the hand/object for control. If they used leverage instead, by building up perpendicular surfaces off the object that would otherwise resist motion, then they could relax their grip and still maintain control. I have done this for nearly 30 years with the world's top athletes in the Olympics, Formula One, IndyCar, and NASCAR with great success.

NIOSH EMG-tested this theory with a technology that I pioneered, and found a 54 percent reduction in linear force (against a 20-lb force), and 43 percent reduction in torque. So, stop squeezing the object, and you'll get fewer cramps.

By anon303241 — On Nov 13, 2012

My hands are cramped together an my blue veins are popping out. What do I do?

By anon261641 — On Apr 16, 2012

Could peripheral neuropathy cause hand and thigh cramps?

By anon155021 — On Feb 22, 2011

I've just got a case of hand cramp right now after I was lifting in the gym. It's the reason I find myself on this site.

First time I have experienced this and hope it does not last long because tomorrow is shoulders meaning more heavy lifting.

Something tells me that if I had worn wrist wraps I would not have this problem right now.

By anon88741 — On Jun 07, 2010

I play guitar in a (classic) rock band. I am 57 years old and this began last year (one time) and again last Friday. After reading this article, I think this is the solution. JL Texas

By anon60420 — On Jan 13, 2010

I tore my ulnar nerve years ago and now suffer from regular cramps in my hand.

By luna49 — On Oct 06, 2009

I used to do a lot of writing by hand years ago, and would sometimes get hand cramps. I do have an underlying neurological condition, however, and now sometimes get them for no apparent reason.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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