Hand weakness can occur due to a variety of conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, and ganglion cysts.
A weakened hand or grip can make everyday tasks much more difficult to complete.
In this article, we discuss some causes of hand weakness, the accompanying symptoms, and the treatment options available.
Ganglion cysts are fluid-filled sacs that typically form on or near a joint or tendon.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), ganglion cysts are the most frequently forming lump in the hand. They often appear on the back of a persons wrist.
Although harmless, ganglion cysts can sometimes put pressure on the nerves, which can cause muscle weakness, tingling, and pain. Most of the time, these lumps are only a cosmetic issue, and they rarely cause sensory changes or weakness.
Learn more about ganglion cysts here.
Ganglion cysts do not typically require treatment. However, if the cyst is causing pain, a person can receive the following types of treatment:
A person may also take over-the-counter pain medication if the cyst is causing discomfort.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the carpal tunnel, which is a passageway in the wrist, or the tissues surrounding the flexor tendons swell. This in turn puts pressure on the median nerve.
This pressure can result in pain, tingling, and numbness in the hand.
According to the AAOS, carpal tunnel syndrome may occur due to different factors, such as repetitive hand use, pregnancy, and some health conditions.
Alongside hand weakness, other symptoms include:
A person may also find that they are dropping things due to hand weakness and numbness. This is a late-stage effect of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Usually, the tingling and pain are present for a long time and may become severe before weakness develops.
Learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome here.
Treatment options for carpal tunnel may include:
Learn more about natural and home remedies for carpal tunnel syndrome here.
Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve, which passes through the inside of the elbow, becomes irritated, inflamed, swollen, or compressed.
Although cubital tunnel syndrome may cause pain in the elbow, most of the symptoms occur in the hand.
Symptoms may include:
Learn more about cubital tunnel syndrome here.
According to the AAOS, treatment options include:
Epicondylitis occurs due to damage to the tendons in the forearm. There are two types of epicondylitis: lateral and medial.
Medial epicondylitis, otherwise known as golfers elbow, occurs due to damage to the tendons that bend the wrist toward the palm.
Lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow, occurs due to damage to the tendons that bend the wrist away from the palm.
Some causes include playing tennis, carrying heavy objects, and frequently using hand tools.
Symptoms of epicondylitis include:
Learn more about lateral epicondylitis here.
Learn more about medial epicondylitis here.
Treatment starts with stopping the activity that caused the condition in the first place and avoiding activities that aggravate the condition.
Treatment options include:
Learn more about exercises for tennis elbow here.
A pinched nerve, or cervical radiculopathy, occurs when something presses against and irritates a nerve located in the neck.
This may stem from changes that occur in the spine as a person ages. It can also occur due to sudden injury that results in a herniated disk.
The pain typically originates in the neck and travels down a persons arm.
Other symptoms include:
Treatment for a pinched nerve includes:
Learn more about how to treat a pinched nerve here.
According to the AAOS, there are over 100 different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most frequent.
Common symptoms of arthritis may include:
Learn more about arthritis in the hands here.
A person should contact their doctor about the best treatment options for them.
A doctor will determine the best treatment based on a persons individual circumstances.
Treatment options may include:
Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass. The condition causes weakness and loss of muscle functions, including strength in the hands. It can occur naturally as a person ages.
Other symptoms can include:
Learn more about sarcopenia here.
Treatment options focus on preventing and managing the condition through physical activity, such as resistance training. This can help improve strength and reduce muscle loss.
A person can also increase their protein intake. A 2020 article suggests consuming 2035 grams of protein per meal.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), peripheral neuropathy can develop due to conditions that involve damage to the peripheral nerves.
There are over 100 types of peripheral neuropathy, and the symptoms depend on the type of nerves affected.
Neuropathy that can affect the hands includes:
Learn more about peripheral neuropathy here.
If a doctor determines a person has peripheral neuropathy, they will recommend the person continue to treat the underlying condition. A person needs to follow all of the doctors recommendations and let them know if the treatment is not working.
To treat peripheral neuropathy directly, a doctor may recommend braces and splints, as well as pain relief medication.
Learn how to treat peripheral neuropathy naturally here.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that affects the central nervous system.
Scientists do not exactly know what causes MS. They believe, however, that it is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the myelin, which insulates the nerves.
According to the NINDS, most people with MS experience muscle weakness in their extremities. They may also experience numbness and prickling sensation.
There is currently no cure for MS. However, treatment typically involves medications and physical therapy.
Learn more about the treatment for MS here.
A stroke occurs as a result of a decrease or blockage in the brains blood supply or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.
Strokes can cause numbness or weakness in the arm, face, or leg, particularly on one side of the body.
Other symptoms of a stroke include:
The treatment for a stroke depends on the type of stroke a person has experienced.
Learn more about the treatment options for a stroke here.
A person should seek emergency medical attention if they notice any symptoms of a stroke.
A person should consult their doctor if they have sudden weakness in one or both hands.
They should also contact a doctor if the treatment they are currently using is not working. A doctor may help determine a better course of treatment.
A doctor will need to perform a physical examination of the person and discuss their symptoms. They will also ask about other symptoms the person has experienced.
During the examination, the doctor may test a persons strength and pain level.
If needed, the doctor may order additional imaging tests to look at the joints. This may include an X-ray or MRI scan. A doctor can use this to diagnose conditions such as arthritis and assess the amount of damage to the joints.
Hand weakness can result from several different conditions, including a ganglion cyst, carpal tunnel syndrome, and cubital tunnel syndrome.
It can also be a part of many different health conditions that cause neuropathy.
A person will likely experience other symptoms, such as pain, swelling, or limited mobility of the hand or fingers.
A person should contact their doctor about all the symptoms they experience. A doctor can diagnose the issue and recommend treatments based on the underlying condition causing the weakness.
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