Pain in the Back of Hands: Causes & Treatments

Our hands are the most important part of the body. With them, you are able to carry out daily routines such as combing your hair, using your cellphone, feeding yourself, etc. Then hand pain does not only bring discomfort but it can also be annoying. The trivial things such as buttoning your clothes become a challenge. There could be a lot of reasons why hand pain happens. When you have pain in the back of the hand, read on to know the most common causes.

What Causes Pain in Back of Hand?

Our hand is made up of numerous structures that control its various functions. Pain occurs because of the conditions that affect any of these structures which results to difficulty in performing normal hand functions.

Why does your hand hurt? The lists below are the most common culprit.

1.  De Quervain's Tendinitis

Also called de Quervain's tendinosis, this condition occurs when the tendons on the side of your wrist at the base of your thumb is inflamed. The pain either starts suddenly or develops gradually and can travel up to your forearm.

The pain is often caused by repetitive motion and stressful muscle activities such as lifting heavy grocery bags and carrying young children. You are also more at risk of De Quervain's Tendinitis if you are a female that is over 40 years old, pregnant or of African descent.


The most common symptoms experienced by patients is pain along the back of their thumb, directly over two thumb tendons and up to the forearm. Moving your thumb is hard and painful, making actions like grasping things or pinching difficult.

2.  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This condition is caused when a nerve in the carpal tunnel is compressed, which results to tingling, numbness and other symptoms in the arm and hand.


Signs and symptoms start gradually and often include tingling or numbness in your index, thumb and middle fingers that come and go. Sometimes you may feel a sensation like an electric shock in your fingers. You can also feel discomfort in your palm and wrist. Tendency to drop objects and weakness in your hands are also experienced.

3.  Fractures

Bone fractures occur when the bone’s continuity is broken and are often caused by high force stress or impact. It can also be a result of some medical conditions that make your bones weak such as some type of cancer, osteoporosis, or osteogenesis imperfect.

Fractures have many types such as:

  • Simple – where a broken bone is aligned and stable
  • Complex – where treatment is more difficult since bone became displaced.
  • Comminuted – more than one place of broken bone
  • Compound – causes injury to the overlying skin.


Signs vary depending on the affected bone as well as the patient’s general health, age and severity of the injury. However, most of the common symptoms include swelling, pain in back of hand, bruising and discoloration of the skin surrounding the injured area, inability to put weight and move the affected area, a grating sensation of the affected joint or bone and bleeding if it’s an open fracture.

Patients where larger bones are affected such as femur or pelvis may experience dizziness, paleness, nausea and sickness.

4.  Arthritis

Though the term is generally used as inflammation, it is also used to describe approximately 200 rheumatic conditions and diseases that affect joints and its surrounding tissues and other connective tissues.

This condition is most common to adults who are more than 65 years old, yet it can also affect people of all ages including children.


Signs and symptoms vary depending on the type of arthritis. Since it is a chronic disease, symptoms come and go and become persistent over time. The most common key warnings are:

  • Pain that is either intermittent or constant.
  • Swelling of the skin over the affected joint and feel warm when touched.
  • Stiffness that occurs after sitting at a desk, waking up or sitting in your car for a long period.
  • Difficulty moving a joint.

5.  Trigger Finger

This is a form of tendinitis where a finger stays in a flexed position as if it is pulling a trigger; hence the term “trigger finger” was coined. This condition occurs when the tendon that bends the finger is inflamed.


Signs can sometimes be mild, yet it gets severe as the condition worsens. Symptoms include:

  • Stiffness of the affected finger
  • Finger pain
  • Tenderness in the palm at the base of the finger that is affected
  • Unable to flex the finger fully
  • A snapping, popping or clicking as you straighten or bend your finger

How to Deal with Pain in Back of Hand

Suffering from pain in the back of your hand is not an experience that you should ignore. If you get stuck in this condition in the future, remember to follow these treatments to find relief.

1.  Splinting

If you know that arthritis is killing you, wearing a splint for a few weeks can help you relieve the symptoms. It stabilizes the position of your thumb, fingers or wrist.

2.  Injections

One effective way of reducing inflammation is by having an injection of a corticosteroid. The relief that this injection provides can last for up to one year.


Some medical professionals prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to provide relief from swelling and pain, however, this is not recommended to be used for carpal tunnel syndrome. Long term usage of some oral NSAID such as ibuprofen has some reported negative effects such as stomach bleeding, ulcers, increased risk of heart attacks and liver damage.

4.  Heat and cold

While heat is known to loosen stiffness of your hand, cold on the other hand relieves pain. Take a hot shower if you feel stiffness of your hand. Apply gel pads or even frozen corn or peas on top of the affected area to reduce the pain.

5.  Stretches and Exercises

Consult with your physical therapist for appropriate exercises that can strengthen your muscles. This can reduce pain and can also help you absorb the stress on joints in hand better.

When you feel pain in back of hands or other parts of your hand, pay attention to it and seek medical assistance immediately if necessary. Sometimes the normal hand pain that we think could actually be a tell-tale sign of a more serious medical condition.