We rely on our hands for hundreds of different activities; from typing on a computer, making tea, turning the pages on a book or magazine and so forth. We take our hands for granted until we experience pain and our daily activities are hindered.
Hands are complicated structures, and very versatile, capable of doing everything from opening a jar to performing delicate microsurgery. A hand has many moving parts comprising of 27 bones, several muscles, ligaments, tendons and thousands of nerves with all of these packed into a very small space. With such an array of different structures and tissues, a lot can go wrong especially because many of our daily activities such as texting, typing and lifting are motions that can cause long term damage to all or some of the structures of our hands.
Diagnosing the cause of hand pain is not easy. Symptoms may come and go, they may get worse with different types of hand movements, and pain may travel from one part or the hand or arm to another.
I am going to go through the most common problems associated with hand pain and natural remedies and actions that one can take to help achieve pain-free hands.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by the swelling of irritated tendons or fluid in the carpal tunnel, a small passageway of bones and ligaments at the base of the hand. This swelling compresses the nerves in the carpal tunnel leading to pain and tingling of the fingers. Mothers-to-be are at a higher risk of CTS because the increased fluid caused by pregnancy causes pressure within the wrist. Repetitive daily activities such as typing and texting are also thought to increase the risk of CTS.
Normally, anti-inflammatories and analgesics are prescribed to dull or alleviate pain but these are not without side effects. Using ice packs and stabilising the wrist motion by the use of a wrist support bandage or splint can also be of benefit. The last resort is surgery by cutting the ligament that presses onto the nerve.
A very good natural anti-inflammatory is Bromelain by Viridian Nutrition. Bromelain is a protein digesting enzyme obtained from the stems of the pineapple plant and has been researched extensively over the last 20 years. Bromelain has been shown to be highly effective at inhibiting inflammation. Since inflammation is the bane of all the healing processes within our bodies, the use of Bromelain also facilitates the healing of any soft tissues injury including carpal tunnel syndrome.
A clever device that helps all types of pain including carpal tunnel syndrome is Aculief. Aculief is a drug-free device that works on the principle of acupressure. It is based on the principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine acupressure point known as the LI-4 meridian spot. This meridian spot is located between the thumb and forefinger and when Aculief is worn, the pressure exerted enhances circulation and energy.
Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow
You do not have to play tennis or golf to develop these types of elbow pain. Both tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are the result of a partial tear of the tendon that connects the muscle to the elbow. Both of these types of elbow pain arise as a result of overuse and repetitive use of muscles such as using the computer keyboard and mouse or excessive twisting movements such as using a screwdriver, tennis racket or the constant swing of a golf club.
Symptoms include pain radiating from outside the elbow to the forearm when grasping or twisting. Pain simply gets worse over time and your grip becomes weaker too.
Ice packs work best for both these types of hand pain. Do not apply heat as this can make the inflammation worse. Conventional anti-inflammatories do help but if you wish to use a natural remedy then consider Bromelain by Viridian Nutrition. For golfer’s elbow, wrap the elbow in an elastic bandage widely available at chemists and supermarkets.
A trigger finger is a condition which affects one or more of the tendons in the hands making it difficult to bend the finger or thumb. Trigger finger arises when inflammation narrows the space within the sheath that surrounds the tendon of the affected finger. Symptoms vary depending upon the severity and include finger stiffness, a clicking sensation when you move your finger, finger locking into a bent position and then popping straight later on, and the finger locked in a bent position and does not straighten.
Trigger finger is usually the result of work or a hobby which requires constant gripping action. It is also more common in women and in people suffering from diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
A good soft tissue anti-inflammatory herbal supplement is Curcumin Elite by Life Extension which helps to calm inflammation in all the soft tissues of the hands. In moderate and/or severe cases where the fingers get locked, use Pure Magnesium Oil Spray by Life-Flo to relax all the soft tissues and hence ease the ability of the finger to revert back to its original position.
A sprained wrist is a common injury particularly amongst athletes and those who undertake fitness exercises, but it can simply also be that when one falls down, the natural instinct is to put your hands out to break the fall which results in injury to the wrist/s.
When a wrist sprain injury occurs, the ligaments of the wrist are stretched beyond their normal limits. Wrist sprain injuries are graded according to severity of the sprain.
Grade 1: mild injury, the ligaments are stretched however they are not torn.
Grade 2: Moderate injury with partially torn ligaments.
Grade 3: severe injury, ligaments are completely torn creating instability in the action of the wrist.
It is rare for surgery to be carried out and most people will benefit from resting the wrist, ice compression and elevating the wrist above the level of the heart.
Natural remedies containing arnica may be of benefit in enhancing the healing process. I would recommend the use of Arnica Montana 200c homeopathic remedy and the application of Arnica High Potency Cream.
Of the 120 different types of arthritis, osteoarthritis remains the most common type of arthritis. It is the result of wear and tear of the joint tissues, specifically of the cartilage in between bones resulting in the rubbing together of the bones. Most often affecting the hands, osteoarthritis can cause permanent damage to the hands if not treated.
As joint tissues rub together, acidic compounds such as uric acid are produced causing pain and stiffness. These acidic compounds need to be removed otherwise they can cause further degradation which is why arthritis is considered a degenerative disease and can accelerate very quickly.
Typical symptoms of osteoarthritis include stiffness of the fingers in the morning and minor swelling which is indicative of inflammation due to the crystallisation of acids around the fingers.
Although there is underlying inflammation, the fingers are cool and do not feel ‘hot’ as they do in rheumatoid arthritis.
I would recommend the use of Superior Joints, a supplement containing Natural Eggshell Membrane (NEM) combined with herbs such as turmeric, ginger and cherry extracts to help alleviate pain, enhance circulation in the whole body including the hands and help in the elimination of compounds that cause pain and stiffness.
Topically, there are many creams and sprays that can be used to alleviate pain. Pure Magnesium Oil Spray can be of great benefit in alleviating pain and enhancing the mobility of the fingers or for those who prefer the use of a cream, Napiers Capsicum & Ginger Warming Cream is the one of choice.
Whilst this may sound obvious, finding the causal factor of pain in the hands is important and then addressing the reason equally important. If your hand pain is due to repetitive use, then change the activity or do not overuse the hands or give them a periodic rest.