Why do my hands hurt?
April 3, 2021 7:21 PM   Subscribe

My hands ache. Not a lot, but enough that I notice. Why?

My massage therapist worked on them when I told her they felt congested and her work made them felt great, but now a week later they're aching again. They hurt evenly, which makes me think it's not an injury or overuse but is something else. It's been going on for maybe a year, but is more noticeable the past few weeks. It's mostly across the knuckles, but inside.

A similar thing happened a year ago, and I nearly posted to AskMe about it, but weirdly that pain went away after I had a dental abscess taken care of. (I just had a dental checkup and everything looks great.)

I'm in good health overall, and the only medication I take is a teeny dose of statins. Any thoughts on what it could be?
posted by The corpse in the library to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Have you found yourself clenching your hands in your sleep? It can be a physical manifestation of stress (some people grind their teeth, some people clench their fists). I find that it's enough to generate low level consistent pain.

Otherwise I'm sure others will have better solutions around ergonomics.
posted by larthegreat at 7:27 PM on April 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

my family gets arthritis in the hands.

lowering salt intake has helped some of us.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:29 PM on April 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Have you been spending more time on your mobile device lately?
posted by Jacqueline at 7:31 PM on April 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I should probably mention that I'm an archer, so my hands get used a lot. But I haven't noticed a connection (e.g. this week I haven't practiced as much as usual, but my hands hurt more than usual).
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:34 PM on April 3, 2021

What happens if you tap the inside of your wrist? If it feels like a mild electric shock, that’s a symptom of carpal tunnel.
posted by bq at 7:42 PM on April 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't know your age, but if arthritis runs in your family it could definitely be a possibility. But hands are full of fun little bones, muscles and tendons so you should probably talk to a doctor about having them looked at.
posted by emjaybee at 9:21 PM on April 3, 2021

mostly across the knuckles, but inside

is exactly where the grinding damage caused by arthritis is.
posted by flabdablet at 11:31 PM on April 3, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If you menstruate, or if you have menstruated, hormonal fluctuations can aggravate both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. (Low estrogen during a period and/or after menopause can trigger flares.) Many women with various painful conditions find they have worse pain during their cycle.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:50 PM on April 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

A family member gets the same thing and it worsens around spring. Turns out they were getting low level hey-fever/allergies as plants came into bloom and an anti-histamine sorted the problem. But +1 for getting checked out anyway in case this is early arthritis.
posted by underclocked at 4:53 AM on April 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

My hands hurt when my subconscious is prodding me that I’m being mistreated in some way. Often the perpetrator is someone who is supposed to have my back; my hands hurt when I’m in disbelief and avoiding the disappointment and rage that comprehending the situation will bring.
posted by carmicha at 4:58 AM on April 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If your massage therapist is saying they feel "congested", I would assume she means they feel inflamed, and you have some inflammatory stuff going on. This would also track with you having an infection and it resolving when the infection gets treated. This is something worth checking with a doctor about - there are blood tests for ongoing inflammation and there are a lot of things that can cause it. (I have inflammatory arthritis and this sounds familiar, YMMV.)
posted by restless_nomad at 6:51 AM on April 4, 2021

Best answer: That sounds a lot like my rheumatoid arthritis. Key things that stood out are ‘congested’ (I describe my knuckles as ‘squishy’ when they flare) and the fact that it’s both sides. It’d be a good idea to get a referral to a rheumatologist. They can at least rule stuff out and if it is some type of inflammatory arthritis the protocol now is to go early and hard with treatment to avoid damage and so best to find out soonest.
posted by kitten magic at 7:08 AM on April 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, I’m the one who said they felt congested.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:59 AM on April 4, 2021

Talk with your doctor about the statin med, as you may need a different one.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:17 AM on April 4, 2021

Best answer: I have inflammatory arthritis in my feet and sometimes hands. It's general pain and stiffness,, and sometimes could be called something like congestion. Tylenol or ibuprofen reduce inflammation. I gave up dairy entirely and that has *really*helped with inflammation. I also try to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, but it's a vague thing, no solid research, but I like salmon and blueberries and whole grains, and I try to avoid sugar. It could maybe be water retention, so eat diuretic foods if possible but continue to drink plenty of water.
posted by theora55 at 1:15 PM on April 4, 2021

If you are clenching your hands in your sleep (usually you will also notice you are clenching them at other times too) then you can try something cheap and easy: buy a small blanket (like for a baby) and lightly hold it with your hands when you go to sleep, this can prevent your from clenching your hands, works for me.
posted by meepmeow at 1:44 PM on April 4, 2021

Try taking Advil for a couple of days to see if that makes them feel better. It could be inflammation from either arthritis or heavy usage.

Try soaking your hands in the hottest water you can stand without discomfort to see if that helps. Move them gently while they are in the water to encourage circulation.

Consider the possibility of carpal tunnel syndrome and a pinched nerve. As an archer you would be keeping your wrists straight but anything is possible.

You might find that adding some flexibility exercises to your wrists help, if the archery has been developing only one set of muscles and motions.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:33 AM on April 5, 2021

Response by poster: > If you menstruate, or if you have menstruated, hormonal fluctuations can aggravate both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

That's it, according to my doctor. The timing of when my hands hurt (including after a vaccination) and some other things made her say that it's inflammation, and that inflammation is a real thing (I asked), and that I might get osteoarthritis some day, but for now it's not a big deal.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:16 PM on May 11, 2021

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