Hand pain includes any kind of discomfort in the tissues or joints of the hand or fingers. Hand pain may be described as throbbing, aching, increased warmth, tingling, soreness, or stiffness. Burning or prickling sensations in the hand or fingers, often called pins and needles, are paresthesias. Paresthesias are often due to temporary or permanent damage or pressure on the nerves that carry sensation messages from the hand and fingers to the spinal cord.
The hand is made up of nerves, bones, blood vessels, muscles, and skin. Muscles provide motion, and tendons anchor your hand muscles to the bones. Nerves control sensation and movement of the hand and fingers, and blood vessels ensure continuous blood circulation to and from the tips of the fingers through the hand and arm.
Hand joints, such as the knuckles, are the areas where bones meet. Joints are complicated structures and consist of cartilage, ligaments that hold bones together, bursas (fluid-filled sacs that help cushion the joint), and synovial membranes and fluid, which lubricate the joints. Any of these structures in the hand or joints can become injured, irritated, inflamed and painful in response to a variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions.
Common causes of hand pain include injury or trauma, such as a boxer’s fracture of the hand, or from repetitive use, such as long periods of keyboarding, which can lead to tenosynovitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Arthritis is another very common cause of hand pain. More serious conditions, such as diabetes and peripheral neuropathy, can also cause pain or a burning sensation in your hand and fingers.
Because hand pain can be a sign of a serious condition, such as infection or fracture, you should contact your medical professional about your symptoms. Seek prompt medical care if you have unexplained, persistent or recurrent hand pain.