Hand and Shoulder Pain: Symptoms, Causes and Care


Hand and Shoulder Pain: Symptoms, Causes and Care

There are several conditions that may cause discomfort, pain and/or limited mobility in the hands and shoulder. In this post, we’ll examine common ailments, provide suggestions for relief and let you know where to seek help if you need assistance from a medical professional.

Common Ailment: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If you’ve experienced tingling or a numbing sensation in your fingers, or simply had intermittent pain surface with no obvious injury, you may be in the beginning stages of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

This progressive condition is caused by excessive pressure applied to your median nerve (which is in the wrist), triggered by repetitive stress to the area. Those who work on computers frequently or in jobs that require constant use of the hands are at the greatest risk for developing Carpal Tunnel.

Common Ailment: Trigger Finger

If you hear a snapping or popping sound, accompanied by pain and/or stiffness in your fingers or thumbs, you may be experiencing a condition known as Trigger Finger.

Trigger Finger occurs when there is inflammation of your finger tendons and as a result your fingers or thumbs become temporarily bent or locked. This stiffness is usually seen in those who have specific medical conditions or who use their hands in a repetitive way, such as musicians or factory workers.

Tips for Relief for Carpal Tunnel and Trigger Finger

For Carpal Tunnel relief, rest, over-the-counter pain medications to reduce inflammation and ice packs may be enough to ease the symptoms. Some choose to also wear a wrist splint to stabilize the hand and arm until the pain subsides.

If the pain persists longer than a few weeks, nerve damage may be present, and surgery could be a potential treatment option. Seek assistance from a medical professional if you think you may be a candidate for Carpal Tunnel surgery.

For Trigger Finger relief, the best thing to do is eliminate the activity that you suspect caused the issue, then follow up with over-the-counter pain medications.

If the pain and problems persist, an orthopedic surgeon can determine whether or not corrective surgery is necessary.

Chronic Shoulder Pain

There are several causes for shoulder pain, which include:

Broken bones. As a result of an accident, bones breaking and then the process of healing can cause prolonged pain and bruising.

Arthritis. Though there are varying types of arthritis, the most common type to cause shoulder pain is osteoarthritis, which likely results from chronic wear-and-tear or sports injuries. Swelling, stiffness and restriction of motion can all result from arthritis.

Bursitis. In each of our joints throughout the body, small, fluid-filled sacs called bursae provide cushions between tissues and bones, helping to reduce friction. When shoulders are overworked, it can lead to inflammation and swelling of the bursae, which is called Bursitis.

Tendinitis. Our muscles are connected to our bones through cords called tendons. When these tendons become inflamed due to excessive activities or degenerative diseases, the painful condition of tendinitis results.

Dislocation. When the head of the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket, the ligaments, tendons and muscles around the shoulder become loose or torn and repeat dislocations are more likely. Repeated instability can lead to arthritis.

Nerve damage. If the suprascapular nerve in the back of the shoulder gets stretched too far or compressed, it can result in loss of shoulder function and severe pain. In the most serious cases, surgery may be required to remove whatever is putting pressure on the nerve.

Infections. Though uncommon, bacterial viral or fungal infections can spread through your bloodstream to a joint and cause shoulder pain.

Tips for Shoulder Pain Relief

To relieve a sore shoulder, the first thing to remember is to get ample rest. The last thing you want to do is put any additional stress on the problem area, so reducing your activity level will be crucial. The exception to this is physical therapy exercises suggested by a medical professional. Their goal will be to help you strengthen the weakened area with approved exercises, targeted specifically to your needs. Some common exercises they may recommend include chest expansions and seated twists.

Medicine is also an option to treat a painful shoulder. Many over-the-counter drugs can reduce inflammation to lessen pain. For more severe suffering, a doctor can prescribe additional types of medicine.

For serious injuries and issues, surgery may be the best way to provide long-term relief. Some surgeries aim to remove scar tissue or repair torn tissues; others focus on reconstruction or shoulder replacement.

Dr. Tyler Kent

Here at the Western Washington Medical Group Orthopedics, Sports, Spine & Hand Center, we’re privileged to have Dr. Tyler Kent on staff. He specializes in treatment of the upper extremities and can assist patients with everything from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to arthritis, to injuries and tendonitis. In addition, his practice includes arthroscopic treatment and joint reconstruction of the shoulder, as well as all aspects of the hand, wrist and elbow.

Request an Appointment

If you’re experiencing hand or shoulder pain, visit our state-of-the-art Western Washington Medical Group facility located in downtown Everett. Dr. Kent and the entire team of experts there can consult, diagnose and treat your ailment. To request an appointment, complete the form on this page. For general inquiries, contact us here