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Put an end to hand and wrist pain

Hand and wrist pain


Understanding hand and wrist pain

Your hands and wrists are delicate structures made up of tiny nerves, blood vessels, bones, tendons and muscles. Pain in and around your hand or wrist can limit your mobility and make even simple daily activities challenging. Good news: You can get back to them, from your favorite sport or hobby to everyday routine tasks.

Our orthopaedic specialists will work with you to relieve your pain and restore mobility and function. We can help you find relief from a wide range of hand and wrist conditions, including:

  • Arthritis and tendinitis
  • Carpal and cubital tunnel syndrome
  • Congenital hand and wrist conditions
  • Dislocations
  • Dupuytren's contracture (which can cause fingers to contract toward the palm)
  • Ganglion cysts and masses
  • Sprains
  • Tendon injuries
  • Trigger and mallet finger
  • Trauma and fractures

Hand and wrist pain conditions

Pain in your hands and wrists can have many causes, including injury and trauma or chronic conditions such as arthritis. We also see overuse issues, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Common hand and wrist conditions can include:

  • Carpal tunnel: The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of your hand that the median nerve runs through. This nerve controls movement of the thumb and sensation in all your fingers except your pinky finger. Carpal tunnel syndrome, also called CTS, is the feeling of numbness, tingling, weakness or pain in the wrist or fingers that are connected to your median nerve.
  • Inflammatory arthritis: This form of arthritis occurs when joints inflame due to an overactive immune system. It's less common than osteoarthritis and occurs for most people later in life.
  • Osteoarthritis: The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis forms when the protective cartilage between your bones (which acts as a cushion) wears down.
  • Sports injury: If you have injured your wrist or hand during a sport, it can cause pain that can come on suddenly or persist over time.
  • Sprain: A sprain occurs when the ligaments in your hand or wrist are stretched or torn, which causes pain or swelling in the affected area.
  • Ganglion cysts: These fluid-filled cysts (also called tumors) can form on the outside of the joint or tendon in your wrist(s). They are non-cancerous, but can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.

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Diagnosing hand and wrist pain

When at-home treatment doesn’t get you relief from pain, our orthopaedic team can help. They are experienced in diagnosing and treating hand and wrist pain and may perform diagnostic tests including:

  • Physical exam – During a physical exam, your doctor feels for any issues in the bones and joints in your hand and wrist. They may also watch as you hold or grasp objects to see how your hand and wrist move, which can help pinpoint a diagnosis.
  • X-ray – After a physical exam, your doctor may order an X-ray, which takes an image of the bones in your hand and wrist and can help to identify any issues in the bones.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – Your doctor may also order an MRI, which takes a detailed image of the bones as well as the tissue in your hand and wrist and can help identify issues like a sprain.

If you are experiencing excruciating pain or swelling, or if you have an open wound or signs of infection (redness, warmth, tenderness or a fever), seek immediate medical attention.

Hand and wrist pain treatment

Our dedicated and highly trained team of orthopaedic specialists will quickly assess and diagnose the cause of your hand and wrist pain. 

One or more of the following treatments may be recommended:


Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications (also called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs) to help you manage hand and wrist pain by reducing swelling.
Non-surgical treatments

A steroid injection can be used to treat inflammation and joint pain. Physical therapy can also be used to lessen hand and wrist pain. Through our sports medicine program, we treat several kinds of hand, wrist and finger injuries.

Our orthopaedic specialists work as a team to provide complete care before, during and after surgery. We offer a range of procedures that can reduce pain or help relieve your pain, such as:

  • Nerve decompression, which is a minimally invasive procedure that relieves pressure on nerves that may be the source of pain.
  • Tendon and ligament repair can help to relieve pain and restore limitations to your range of motion caused by a torn tendon or ligament.
  • Specialized hand surgery with our fellowship-trained hand surgeons who have advanced training in complex hand and wrist surgeries. Most hand surgeries are “in and out” procedures, and you can quickly return to normal activities, following guidelines from your surgeon.
  • Joint replacement surgery, which will replace your worn joint and can help restore mobility and functionality of your hand and wrist.

Orthopaedic care at Geisinger

Our orthopaedic team offers the latest, most minimally invasive procedures for both diagnoses and treatment. We offer:

  • Comprehensive orthopaedic care – Whether you need joint replacement, sports medicine, chiropractic care or a world-renowned spine surgery program, trust us for unmatched expertise in orthopaedic conditions. We treat orthopaedic conditions including bone and joint pain; injuries from sports, falls and fractures; and the wear and tear of daily life.
  • World-class care, close to home – With 24 locations throughout central, northeast and south-central Pennsylvania, our experienced orthopaedic team provides evaluations, consultations and comprehensive care. We offer leading-edge treatment options and tailored-to-you care backed by the expertise and innovation of a nationally renowned health system.
  • Better, faster healing – Tried and true methods keep you on the path to healing, such as our ProvenCare® program, which identifies and consistently provides the best treatment for specific conditions. So you spend less time in the hospital and recover faster.
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