What Causes Hand Aches?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2018
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Hand aches may be caused by a number of conditions including injury, arthritis or bursitis. Sore hands may specifically be caused by a condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome, which may require surgery to correct. Poor ergonomics when using a computer and mouse is increasingly becoming one of the leading causes of aching hands among daily computer users.

Although usually due to preventable and treatable causes, hand aches can still seriously impact a person’s life. Even temporarily having to reduce activities due to aching hands can be an inconvenience and cause a serious disruption in performing daily tasks. When the hands hurt, an immediate cause should be sought and remedied to reduce the impact that pain causes.

One of the most common causes of hand aches is injury, such as repetitive strain. When performing repeated tasks, such as writing or typing, many report symptoms of tingling in the fingers, intense discomfort and aching hands. Pain occurs when the muscles and tendons in the hand sustain damage and a decrease in lubrication, as a result of this repetition. Soon, muscles and tendons become inflamed and begin to compress nearby nerves. All of these reactions cause hand pain, as well as pain in the wrists, forearm, neck and shoulders.


Carpal tunnel syndrome is a specific type of repetitive stress famous for causing sore hands. It is commonly classified as an occupational injury, as it is most likely to affect cashiers, seamstresses, typists, factory workers and others performing job-related repetitive hand tasks. Hand exercises may help reduce pain and aching, as will resting the hands when nerve pain is experienced. For some people, hand aches caused by carpal tunnel syndrome become so unbearable and disabling that surgery is needed to relieve pain.

Arthritis may also be a source of hand aches. Caused by an inflammation of the joints, arthritis in the hands most commonly occurs in older individuals, but can actually affect anyone at any age under different circumstances. Heredity may cause arthritis or it may be triggered by joint injuries or a bacteria infection, as is the case with Lyme disease, which is an infectious type of arthritis. With more than 100 different types of arthritis, other common symptoms will include joint stiffness, painful joints and joints that feel feverish when inflamed.

A specific type of bursitis, tenosynovitis, causes hand aches. This is caused by a thickening of the lining surrounding the finger’s tendons. Also called trigger finger, this type of bursitis may also cause the fingers to lock and become swollen. Another type of bursitis, known as DeQuervain’s tendinitis, may also cause pain in the hands, especially around the wrist and the thumb.


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Post 3

@andee - I also spend long days sitting in front of the computer and seem to notice more aching legs than anything. I have always heard that you are supposed to get up and move around every so often, and this has forced me to do that.

It does make a difference when I get up at least every hour to stretch and move around. Not only does it help keep my legs from getting stiff, but also gives my eyes and brain a break. I am always more productive when I have had a little break, than if I just sit there for hours on end without giving myself a break.

Post 2

I notice that after a long day at the computer, I will have right hand joint pain. I realize the importance of ergonomics when spending a long time at the computer. My mouse pad has a place where you can rest your wrist then using your mouse. This makes a big difference for me when I am doing a lot of clicking on the mouse. I have not tried an ergonomic keyboard, but might consider it if I continue to have aching hands.

With so many people spending long days at the computer, I am not surprised to see more carpal tunnel surgery being done than ever before.

Post 1

I just wanted to say that my mother in law had constant wrist pain and also experienced hand numbness and tingling in her fingers. She eventually got operated on her wrist for carpel tunnel syndrome.

She was out of work for about six weeks and changed her keyboard to a more ergonomic one. She had to have a cast on for several weeks but know she is better.

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