Pain in Hands and Feet

There are a few different conditions that can cause pain in hands and feet. Regardless of the cause, it can be miserable. Many people are affected with this in the cold, with overuse, and when you put pressure on them. Treating the underlying conditions may help to relieve the pain, but not always. It often requires the use of anti-inflammatories, home remedies, and adjustments to lifestyle. This article will review some of the common causes, what can be done to treat it, and home remedies that may be helpful for pain relief.

Causes of Pain in Hands and Feet

There are some common causes of pain in your hands and feet. They aren’t always easy to find and many people see a few different doctors before the cause is found. This is why it is helpful to know some of the causes. These include:

1.       Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a pain syndrome that affects the muscles over most of the body. Researchers don’t know why it happens, but it may be related to your brain and the perception of pain.

  • Symptoms: Pain over most of the body lasting more than 3 months, fatigue, “brain fog,” depression, restless leg syndrome, and sometimes sleep apnea.
  • How it is diagnosed: There is no specific test for fibromyalgia, but the doctor may run some routine blood tests to make sure it isn’t something else. There are 18 pressure points on the body that are painful to pressure in fibromyalgia. If the doctor presses on the points and you feel tender in 11 out of 18 points, then you may have fibromyalgia.
  • How it is treated: There is no cure, but pain management is possible. Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and narcotics can help for short-term. For long-term, there have been advancements with antidepressant medications that alter the brain's perception of the nerve impulses that cause the pain.

2.       Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is one common cause of pain in hands and feet. This type of arthritis is caused by an overactive immune system that causes deterioration in the joints.

  • Symptoms: Pain in the major joints of the body including hands, feet, knees, and elbows. It can also cause mild low-grade fevers, weight loss, stiffness, and fatigue.
  • How it is diagnosed: Blood testing for inflammation in the body and rheumatoid factors can show the antibodies associated with RA.
  • How it is treated: This condition also has no cure, but certain medications can put it into “remission” where it goes dormant and stops attacking the body. Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs are able to lower the immune system response. Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications can also help with the pain.

3.       Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is nerve pain caused by damage to the delicate nerves in the hands and feet. It is often caused by underlying conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.

  • Symptoms: Peripheral neuropathy causes pain in the extremities such as hands, feet, fingers, and toes. Other symptoms may include: muscle weakness, falls, heat intolerance, and low blood pressure.
  • How it is diagnosed: This condition is diagnosed with nerve function testing and evidence of an underlying cause. They can also biopsy the actual nerve.
  • How it is treated: Keeping the underlying condition under control will help to prevent further nerve damage. The pain can be managed with pain relievers, seizure medications that help with nerve pain, and certain anti-depressants can help dull the pain by altering the brain's perception of the pain.

4.       Lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that causes widespread inflammation all of the body. It can cause joint pain in major joints, including hands and feet.

  • Symptoms: Fatigue, joint pain, trouble breathing, fevers, rash on the face, and pain in hands and feet. Other symptoms include: blue color of hands and feet in cold weather, lesions, chest pain and headaches.
  • How it is diagnosed: The doctor will check for inflammation levels, autoimmune markers (not always positive), and a range of symptoms to meet the criteria for lupus.
  • How it is treated: Anti-inflammatory medications, pain relievers, and drugs are able to lower the immune system response.

5.       Multiple Sclerosis

This condition is caused by the body attacking the nerves in the brain and spine. This leads to widespread pain and muscle issues all over the body. Multiple body systems can be affected.

  • Symptoms: Numbness, tingling in the extremities, pain in your hands and feet, blurry vision and balance issues. It can also cause trouble thinking and memory problems. In advanced stages, walking may be completely impaired and pain can occur with most movements.
  • How it is diagnosed: CT scan and MRI can detect lesions on the brain. There may also be lesions on the spinal cord.
  • How it is treated: While there is no cure for MS, pain relievers and muscle relaxers are helpful for pain. In some, corticosteroids are helpful to reduce inflammation around the nerves. New therapies are being developed that can lower the level of immune system attack on the myelin sheath that protects the nerves.

6.       Gout

Gout is a type of arthritis caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the body. The pain usually starts in the big toe very suddenly. It can then radiate to the feet, ankles, elbows, knees and hands.

  • Symptoms: Apart from the intense pain on your joints, your discomfort can become lingering from several days to a few weeks, and will finally influence your joints’ mobility.
  • How it is diagnosed: Gouty arthritis is diagnosed by checking the uric acid levels in the blood.
  • How it is treated: Treatments may include: increased fluids, rest, and medications to reduce uric acid in the body. Pain medications and anti-inflammatories are also helpful.

Home Remedies for Pain in Hands and Feet

Pain in your hands and feet are often relieved with home remedies. These include:

  • Use capsaicin topical cream (pain reliever made from hot peppers).
  • Keep your hands and feet warm in the cold. You can use thick socks and gloves.
  • Wear good shoes with support. Use a hand brace when typing.
  • Use epsom salts in your bath water to help relax sore muscles.
  • Drink chamomile tea, which can help calm nerve and muscle pain and help you sleep better if the pain is worse at night.
  • Try some glucosamine supplements. They can help the body increase lubrication to the joints.
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