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What Causes Hand Inflammation?

By Glyn Sinclair
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Hand inflammation can be caused by a buildup of fluid in the tissues and joints of the wrist and hand. There are a variety of reasons this condition may occur and some of them are relatively benign, however, it could also be a sign of something more serious such as an underlying disease. For this reason, a person experiencing sudden inflammation and swelling of the hand should always consult with a doctor, especially if the condition is accompanied with a high fever and a warm or reddened skin.

Depending on the cause of the hand inflammation, if left untreated, it could potentially lead to weakness and deformity of the hand, spread of infection and even amputation. Swelling and inflammation of the hand will often be noticed after an injury such as a wrist sprain.

There are a host of potential factors that may cause a hand to become inflamed. Less serious reasons might include a broken or sprained bone. Repetitive stress can also create swelling in the wrist and hand. More serious factors can include Kawasaki disease, septic arthritis and an obstruction of the lymphatic system. Kawasaki disease is a condition in which the blood vessels become inflamed and is relatively rare.

Symptoms related to hand inflammation could include numbness or tingling sensations in the general area, reduced movement and weakness. Other more serious symptoms can present with fevers and chills, excessively high temperature, fatigue and sudden weight gain due to fluid buildup. People should seek immediate medical help if any of these symptoms are present as they could potentially be life-threatening. Shortness of breath is also a serious symptom when it occurs in conjunction with this condition.

Hand inflammation can occur during exercise and is relatively common. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, however, it is thought that due to reduced blood flow to the extremities it may cause them to cool and in turn cause the blood vessels to expand. Low levels of sodium may be another reason for the condition when exercising, especially during marathon events. Excessive water consumption can dilute sodium in the system and create swelling in the hands and feet.

Tendinitis is another condition that can cause hand inflammation. This is when the tendon that connects the bone and muscles becomes inflamed due to trauma or overuse. Males are more likely to develop this condition and sustained heavy labor and vibration can cause it to progress over time. Tendinitis is typically treated with ice and rest, whereas chronic tendinitis which is ongoing can be treated with various heat remedies as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

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Discussion Comments
By bluedolphin — On Aug 25, 2013
@literally45-- It might be carpal tunnel syndrome. Is the pain an aching kind of pain? Do you also get tingling or numbness sometimes?

My dad has hand inflammation, tingling, numbness and pain in his hands. He was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. He uses an anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving cream. Massaging the hands towards the wrists help too.

You should see a doctor about it. It could be carpal tunnel syndrome or maybe a strain or arthritis. You can't know without a check-up.

By literally45 — On Aug 25, 2013

My wrist and hand has been inflamed for a while now. I also have pain around my wrist and my forearm. I know that I haven't injured myself. What could it be?

By ddljohn — On Aug 24, 2013

I accidentally hit my hand on a chair a few weeks ago. I hit it with a lot of force and it hurt a lot. The part that got hurt was the part of my palm underneath the thumb, where the metacarpal bone is. In about ten minutes, that entire part became swollen and was painful to the touch.

I started putting an ice pack on it right away and kept the ice on the entire day. I never went to the doctor, but my hand was slightly inflamed and painful for about two weeks. Even now, when I apply pressure on that part, it hurts slightly. It's healing slowly.

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