Hand Pain and Fibromyalgia
Do you have hand pain and fibromyalgia?
Pain in the extremities is common in fibromyalgia and sometimes overlooked due to the other common pain areas of the fibro body.
It might be hard to distinguish the difference between pain that is caused from fibromyalgia, nerve pain or pain that stems from another condition like any of the various types of arthritis.
What Does Hand Pain and Fibromyalgia Feel Like?
Of course, you might have both fibro and arthritis type of pain.
The hand pain might be coming from another condition, but in the interest of hand pain and fibromyalgia and the many questions that arise, we will focus on hand pain caused by fibromyalgia.
With fibromyalgia pain, it will be more related to nerves, tendons and trigger points. However, there can be other related causes as well.
“Fibro related hand pain can occur when using or not using the hands. Pain can occur when simply reaching for and picking up an object. Even a light object”
Because the muscles in our hands are different from that of our legs or arms, the pain may likely feel like it is more in the bones and joints of the fingers rather than the muscles and tendons of the joints. This light touch sensation can also stem from allodynia.
Change in blood flow to the hands or nerve pain can also be exacerbating factors. You may have heard that blood vessels can be affected in fibromyalgia. This can also occur more in the extremities in some cases. Read more here regarding the Blood Vessel connection.
Fairly often, what you feel initially is more of a “sensation” rather than immediate pain. You may then have a radiating type of pain, and again this can travel along the nerves, tendons, ligaments and surrounding joints. This can cause a weakness in the hands, traveling up to the wrist, forearm and shoulder, depending on any trigger points involved.
Often times, the pain actually starts in the upper arm or shoulder, and later radiates down to the hands. The underside of your forearm may feel sore and even ‘swollen”. This can exacerbate any co-condition such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Trigger points may be latent or active. When they are active and radiating is when you feel those odd sensations and radiating type of pains along the entire arm, bicep area and then into the forearm and hands. Again, we need to avoid too much repetitive motion when these areas are sore and feeling bruised. Light massage or myofascial release on the entire upper body can be helpful.
You might also be suffering with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which can extend from the forearms down into the wrist and hands.
Shoulder injuries and hand pain
Another scenario with hand pain, is the ability for pain or injury to radiate down to the forearms and into the hands.
We often talk here about shoulder and clavicle issues. Trigger points in any of these areas can radiate pain up or down the surrounding areas.
Impingement syndrome around the shoulder areas can cause a pinching like feeling that can affect surrounding areas, exacerbate trigger points, and has the potential to radiate pain into the hands.
Difficulty with Activities of Daily Living?
As noted, repetitive use can increase fibromyalgia hand pain. Daily activities such as writing and/or typing on a computer or cell phone can easily exacerbate pain.
Lifting objects and overcompensating by using the hands or fingers more than the arms or upper body strength can also increase pain.
Recent research has also shown a connection between fibromyalgia and extremity pain. The blood flow in the hands for instance, can be shunted away from the hands when movement occurs in another part of the body. I have seen this during exercise or daily activities of living.
This can also occur when we are exposed to toxins in the environment or weather change. For our exercise and movement protocols, I always suggest wearing gloves when the hands are cold during workouts and at bedtime. Yes, keep a light pair of gloves by your bed at night, cold hands can be another aggravating factor to prevent you from being able to fall asleep.
Maintaining upper body strength on whatever level is possible for each of us is so essential. Just like a lack of strength in legs can affect the joints in the knees and ankles, a lack of strength in the upper body can increase pain in hands. And, as a reminder, always carry objects close to the body. Avoid extending the arms and hands too far from a fibro safe range of motion.
Do you have difficulty with the following?
- Opening jars, car doors or drawers.
- Pain when merely leaning on your hands or forearms?
- Gripping objects
- Pulling clothes out of the washer
- Cutting and preparing food
- Using utensils
- tying shoelaces
- fixing hair
- carrying grocery bags
- making the bed
- gripping a broom or vacuum
- pulling a plug out of an outlet
There are so many big ways but also many smaller ways in which we depend on the use of our hands….
So, just like other parts of the fibro body, we know that there is no quick fix, however because we use and depend on our hands in so many daily activities of living, I believe it is prudent to protect this area as much as possible.
I remember a time year back when my hands were particularly painful to the point that I went to one of my chiropractors feeling very concerned.
And what about a handshake?
Have you ever noticed that some people like to exert their power by shaking hands too hard? And with fibro, it can feel like they are crushing your hands and fingers. I had this happen recently, and the “feeling” of that handshake seemed to linger for too long.
As a practitioner and trainer, I use my hands often and even though I used various repetitive motions in my work, it didn’t really make sense to me that this pain would be so debilitating to the point of not being able to fully use my hands without undue pain.
It took me some time to realize it was part of fibromyalgia, not arthritis. Also, through lessening the repetitive motions, it helped the more immediate pain.
Again, it is important to remember that although we need to to maintain as much strength as possible in our upper body, this kind of pain can occur not because of a lack of strength but simply as part of symptoms within fibromyalgia and particularly hand pain and fibromyalgia.
Is there help for my fibromyalgia hand pain?
Although we know that extremity pain is just part of living with fibromyalgia, we can use various tools to at least mediate and even minimize the pain and/or prevent it from getting worse.
As stated above, when hand pain becomes debilitating, try to refrain from repetitive motions like typing/writing. Give your hands a break for a few days if possible.
Try using copper compression gloves. The copper used in compression wear and clothing has been shown to reduce pain; it’s worth a try!! I use copper compression wear, clothing and gloves. I think it’s a good investment for long term use.
These can help upper body conditioning which in turn will help your hand pain and fibromyalgia. Remember that radiating trigger points often start in the upper back, neck and shoulders.
Try some natural pain relief therapies such as a few Tbsp. of epsom salts. Soak your hands in a large bowl of Epsom salts (try adding a tsp. of ginger root powder as shown for the foot bath on the adrenal stress article page here in the website)
The warming sensation of the ginger root powder really does feel good. It will generally last about 15-20 minutes after soaking. Just be sure to keep ginger root powder away from the eyes.
Incorporate some hand exercises. Increasing blood flow and oxygen is good for every part of our bodies. Gripping a small foam ball or stretching the fingers back gently with the opposing hand.
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