Why Are My Hands Swollen? 10 Possible Causes

Swelling of the hands, medically known as edema, can be a bothersome condition. It may impact your ability to perform everyday tasks, or it might simply make you feel uncomfortable. Several factors can cause this symptom, and understanding the actual root cause is the first solution to resolving the issue. This article provides an in-depth look at ten potential reasons why your hands might be swollen.

What is Hand Swelling?

Swelling in the hands refers to an enlargement or puffiness in the hands, often accompanied by stretched or shiny skin. You might also experience discomfort, pain, or stiffness in the hands or find it difficult to move your fingers freely.

The swelling is often a result of fluid buildup in the tissues or inflammation in the joints or tissues of the hands. Various factors can contribute to these phenomena.

Who Does Hand Swelling Affect?

Anyone can experience swelling in their hands. However, some individuals are more prone to this condition due to their lifestyles, health status, or age. As Natalia Hapych, a family doctor, puts it, “Swelling in the hands isn’t selective. It can affect anyone. However, some people may have a higher risk due to existing health conditions or certain lifestyle factors.”

How Common Is Hand Swelling?

It’s difficult to estimate how common hand swelling is because it’s often a symptom of other health conditions rather than a condition in its own right. However, it’s a fairly common symptom that many people experience at some point in their lives.

What Are The 10 Possible Causes of Hand Swelling?

Let’s delve into ten potential causes of hand swelling:

1. Injury or Trauma

If you’ve recently suffered an injury to your hand, such as a sprain, fracture, or blunt force trauma, swelling can be a typical response. It’s your body’s way of protecting the area and facilitating healing.

2. Arthritis

Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can seriously cause swelling in the hands. These conditions result in inflammation of the joints, leading to puffiness and discomfort.

3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Put simply, carpal tunnel syndrome actually happens when the median nerve in your wrist becomes pressed or squeezed. Swelling, pain, and numbness in the hand are typical symptoms.

4. Infection

Infections in the skin (cellulitis) or deeper tissues (abscesses) can lead to local inflammation and swelling.

5. Poor Circulation

Conditions that affect blood flow, like Raynaud’s disease or peripheral artery disease, can result in swelling in the hands.

6. Hypothyroidism

An underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, can cause swelling in various parts of the body, including the hands.

7. Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the body retains more fluid than usual, leading to swelling in various parts, including the hands.

8. Sodium Overload

Consuming too much sodium can lead to fluid retention in the body, resulting in hand swelling.

9. Medication Side Effects

Certain medications, such as high blood pressure drugs, diabetes medications, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, may cause hand swelling as a side effect.

10. Dehydration

When you’re dehydrated, your body may retain fluid in response, causing your hands to swell.

Treatment and Management

Treating swollen hands depends on the underlying cause. For instance, if a medication is causing swelling, your doctor might change your prescription. If arthritis is the cause, anti-inflammatory medication or physiotherapy might be recommended.

Home remedies can also be effective. These may include drinking plenty of water, elevating your hands, and performing hand exercises.

When Should You Seek Medical Attention?

While mild and temporary hand swelling usually isn’t a cause for concern, you should consult your doctor if the swelling is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms such as pain, redness, or warmth. This could indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires immediate attention.

Remember, if you’re unsure, it’s better to err on the side of caution. As Dr. Hapych puts it, “When it comes to your health, there’s no such thing as being overly cautious. If you’re concerned about hand swelling, make an appointment to discuss your symptoms.”

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