You can ease hand pain with simple steps at home. See a GP if the pain doesn't go away.
How to ease hand pain yourself
Try these things first:
- avoid activities that cause pain, if possible
- use an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) on the painful area for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen
If you have pain after an injury, don't take ibuprofen for the first 48 hours, as it may slow down healing.
A pharmacist can help with hand pain
A pharmacist can offer practical advice and may suggest:
- the best painkiller – this may be tablets, or a cream or gel you rub on the skin
- things you can buy to help, like cold packs and splints
- seeing a GP, if you need to
See a GP if:
- you see no improvement after treatment at home
- the pain gets worse
- the pain keeps coming back
Go to a minor injuries unit or A&E if:
- you have extreme pain after an injury
- your wrist or finger are a funny shape
- there was a snap or grinding noise at the time of injury
- you have difficulty moving the hand, wrist or fingers
These are signs of a broken bone.
Common causes of hand pain
Your symptoms might give you an idea of what's causing your hand pain. But don't self-diagnose – see a GP if you're worried.
|Tingling and numbness in the thumb-side of the hand and fingers||carpal tunnel syndrome|
|Pain, tenderness and swelling in the wrist or thumb||sprain and strain, osteoarthritis or tendonitis|
|Throbbing, tingling, numbness or cramp in the wrists and hands||repetitive strain injury (RSI) or tendonitis|
|Swelling and stiffness in the joints of the wrist, hand or near the finger nails||osteoarthritis|
|Stiffness, warmth and swelling – especially early in the morning – in the joints of the knuckles, wrists or fingers||rheumatoid arthritis|
|A soft round lump or swelling at the back of the wrist or between the fingers||ganglion|
|Pain moving your thumb, and swelling and creaking near the base of your thumb||tendonitis or arthritis|
Page last reviewed: 01/08/2017
Next review due: 01/08/2020