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There are several different issues that commonly lead to pain in the back of the hand. Injuries that damage the skin, muscle, or bones are a frequent culprit. Disorders that cause compression of nerves running through the arms and hands can also be to blame. Arthritis in the joints of the hand is another common cause, and some people may also develop painful issues with the tendons in their hands.
Pain in the hand is often the result of an injury to the area. Contusions or bruises may develop for a wide range of reasons; for example, a heavy object might be dropped on the hand or it could be hit against a hard surface. A severe enough blow may even lead to a painful fracture in the bones along the back of the hand.
Nerve compression is another frequent cause of hand pain. Carpal tunnel syndrome, where the median nerve that passes through the wrist to the hand is compressed, is often the problem; this disorder frequently develops in people who make repetitive movements with their hands and wrists or who often use tools that vibrate. Another disorder known as radial tunnel syndrome, or posterior interosseous nerve syndrome, is the result of pinching of the radial nerve in the elbow or back of the forearm, and can lead to sharp, stabbing pain in the back of the hand. In some cases, the nerve is actually damaged; this is known as radial neuropathy, and it can lead to long-term pain as well as loss of some sensation in the hand.
Another common cause of pain in the hands is arthritis. This disease, which causes inflammation and damage in joints, can affect many different areas in the hand, and typically becomes progressively more degenerative and painful over time. There are different types of arthritis that are often associated with the hands, but the most common is osteoarthritis, which often affects older people.
Tendon problems in the hands may also lead to pain. Two common disorders that affect the hands are tendinitis and tenosynovitis. Tendinitis is the inflammation of the tendons themselves, while tenosynovitis causes inflammation of the sheaths around them. Frequently the result of strain or overuse, tendon issues typically lead to swelling, irritation, and pain in the hands.