Swollen hands are the sign of an accumulation of fluid or inflammation of the tissues in the joints of the hand. 
Swelling in the hand is also called edema, it can result from severe infections, trauma and other abnormal situations.

The swollen hand always causes pain, may be present excess fluid without inflammation. 
Swelling may occur suddenly or may slowly increase.


Causes of swollen hands

There are many diseases that cause pain or discomfort, bloating, inability to grasp objects and heat.

The infection can be a cause of the swollen hand. 
Infectious cellulitis, for example, is a serious bacterial skin infection that causes red , sore, swollen, and hot skin . 
The infection can affect lymph nodes and blood, if not treated in time can be lethal.

Poison ivy, poison oak and sumac sap
toxin found in poison ivy, oak and sumac causes a rash allergic and bubbles  that cause itching .

The abscess of the skin or furúculo, is a swollen, painful, red and hot lump of the skin that can burst and let the pus out.


Angioedema is a swelling under the skin that often appears around the eyes and lips.

A chilbler is a disorder that affects the skin and underlying tissues as a consequence of exposure to cold in predisposed individuals. 
The skin becomes very cold, ant, hardens and turns red. It usually affects the extremities and less vascular areas such as fingers, nose, ears, cheeks and cheeks.

Insect bites
Redness, swelling, pain, itching and pimples are frequent symptoms of insect bites .

Chemical Burn
chemical burn can cause blisters and symptoms that range from itching, pain and shortness of breath .

The burns caused by heat are called thermal burns and can cause pain, swelling, blisters, and changes depending on the severity.


Trauma and injuries to the hands and fingers

Hand injuries are another frequent cause of inflammation. 
The lesions can lead to an accumulation of fluid in the injured area and therefore can cause edema. 
A sprain, a tear , a fracture , a dislocation or crushing of the hand are other causes of swelling in the hand. 
These lesions cause a bruise or hematoma , the hand becomes painful and changes color, from red to purple, blue or white, then yellow and finally greenish.

Fracture of the hand
A broken or fractured hand bone is a frequent injury and can cause pain, swelling, and bruising.

Osteomyelitis is the infection of a bone and causes pain , swelling and redness.

tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon; if it occurs at the extremities of the limbs, a hand or a swollen foot may be seen . A shoulder, a knee, or an elbow swollen by tendinitis is very rare . 
Inflammation of a tendon may be acute by trauma or by exertion performed with as much force as possible (for example, tightening a screw).

The arthritis hand is a disease caused by wear of the cartilage in joints and causes pain, stiffness and swelling. 
This disease occurs almost always in the elderly.

Arthritis is a disease that can swell your hands
Symptoms of arthritis include bloating, pain in the hands and joints. 
A doctor may order X-rays and blood tests to determine the type of arthritis that causes the symptoms and treatment options. 
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis also affects children and adolescents.

Rheumatoid Arthritis
The rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that usually affects the hands that become rigid, painful, swollen and deformed.

Medications that can cause swollen hand
You should always inform your doctor about any medications you take or treatments you are taking: those who need a prescription, over-the-counter medicines, supplements and other herbal or alternative treatments. 
The following medications may be a possible cause of hand swelling:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants,
  • Medications for diabetes ,
  • Medications for high blood pressure ,
  • Hormone therapy for menopause ,
  • Cortisone ,
  • Antagonistic calcium medications and medications that dilate the blood vessels can cause edema.

Organic disease
Swollen hands may occur as a consequence of systemic pathologies. Kidney diseases can cause swelling because the body can not get rid of excess fluid, although the swollen legs are more frequent of swollen hands. 
The lymphatic system helps to rid the body of the fluid and the swelling that can occur if the system becomes weakened by cancer or other health problems.

Activity and inactivity can cause swollen hands
Staying in the same position for a long period of time can cause mild swelling. 
Many people also notice a swollen hand after vigorous exercise because blood flows to the heart, lungs and muscles, decreasing the flow of blood in the hands. 
The sweating causes loss of fluids and minerals in the body and can increase the swelling of the hands.

Another cause of swollen hands is a very high or very low level of sodium. 
Eating too much salt can cause loss of fluid from the blood vessels to the surrounding tissues. 
Drinking lots of water, especially during endurance sports like marathons, can dilute sodium levels and cause an electrolyte imbalance, known as hyponatremia. 
One of the symptoms of sodium deficiency is swelling, although other important signs such as confusion or vomiting may be more noticeable.

Other causes include: 
1. Trauma, 
2. Cancer, 
3. Obesity, 
4. Thyroid diseases such as hyperthyroidism .


Swelling under certain conditions

Swollen hands during pregnancy
Women may have swelling in their hands during pregnancy or as a pre-menstrual symptom. 
Pregnant or premenstrual syndrome women accumulate water throughout the body. 
Swelling may be particularly important during pregnancy because the body increases blood and fluid supply  by about 50%. 
Patients often also complain of tingling in the fingers . 
Also the feet may swell during pregnancy, especially in the eighth or ninth month.

A week before the menstrual cycle is normal a buildup of liquid in the body and hands.

Swelling with itching and red spots
Among the causes of swollen hands, dry, itchy  and rash with red dots , may be contact dermatitis , ie the inflammation caused by an allergen. 
Among the allergic reactions that can cause a buildup of fluid and red skin are urticaria and angioedema .

Swollen hands at night
This symptom is rare in bed, but if we take an unnatural position that causes excessive pressure, the hand may swell.

Swollen hands in winter
Raynaud’s disease is often the cause of swollen, frozen, numb, pale or red-purple hands when the weather is cold. 
The cause is a change in blood vessels.

hands Hands may be larger without necessarily being swollen for the following reasons:

  • Acromegaly, causes enlargement of the hands, rather than swelling.
  • Gigantism,
  • Obesity,
  • Hypothyroidism ,
  • Manual labor causes the growth of muscles, bones and connective tissue of the hands.


Treatment for swollen hands

One of the most important changes in diet to treat swollen hands and feet is to reduce sodium intake. 
Reduce table salt and check for tinned foods that contain sodium meals like snacks. 
Choose the alternatives with a low amount of sodium. 
A good way to cut down on salty food intake is to replace fries and popcorn with fresh fruits and vegetables.


Self-treatment for swollen hands

Drink Water
There does not need to be a misconception that water retention is aggravated by water intake. 
On the contrary, it is necessary to drink enough water to drain the accumulated liquid.

Perform stretching exercises of the hands and fingers in a repetitive manner that are useful to promote blood circulation in the affected parts and in turn reduce swelling. 
In the summer when your hands are more swollen and you are unable to remove the ring from a finger, we recommend putting your hands up, opening and closing your fingers. 
Another simple way to reduce swelling of the hands and fingers is to move your hands while walking. 
Do not be intimidated if your hands and fingers are swollen in the morning upon waking. 
This can be caused by unusual positioning during sleep. 
You have to stay calm and put your hands in an upright position for some time to reduce the swelling.

A higher intake of salt is known to cause swelling in the hands and fingers in healthy adult subjects. Therefore, reducing dietary sodium intake every day or maintaining the recommended minimum level helps to reduce edema. 
If alcohol consumption is the main cause of swollen fingers and toes, refraining from alcoholic beverages is essential to prevent water retention. 
Reducing alcohol intake by replacing it with water is a great way to treat the swollen hand in alcoholics. 
After following the home treatments for swelling of the hands and fingers, fluid retention in the hands is likely to decrease greatly. 
However, if the swelling of the hand occurs for no apparent reason or if the condition persists for 2 consecutive days it is necessary to seek a qualified doctor.


Useful Tips

Physiotherapy is useful to reduce inflammation and swelling, usually the most appropriate treatments are laser treatment and ultrasound in water, but in case of bruising the treatment that gives better results is ECR .

1- Drink at least 2 liters of water per day. This allows the elimination of toxins from the blood, helping to reduce swelling in the hands.

2- Lift your feet and hands . When you’re sitting, put your feet on a stool. The feet should remain on a higher level than the heart. Rest your hands on cushions so they stay higher than the arms.

3- Wear gloves and elastic stockings. 
These therapeutic products are also called socks or compression gloves. Encourage circulation in the hands and feet helping to eliminate swelling. 
Clenching the wrist and hand with a glove may prevent fluid from accumulating in the affected area. 
The gloves should be comfortable, but not so tight as to endanger the movement of the fingers.

4 – Massage in the hands. You can perform the massage with the help of a friend. Massage increases circulation in the hands and feet and also promotes excess circulation of fluids. 
Hand massage can help reduce fluid in the hand. If physical exercise or massage causes pain, the patient can better tolerate treatment after a hot bath.

5- Apply ice to your hands and feet. 
The ice helps to reduce inflammation in both. 
Put the ice in the swollen part for 10 minutes, then remove the ice for another 10 minutes. Repeat the process three times. 
Attention, apply ice directly on the skin causes a burn, always place a cloth between the hand and the ice.

6. Follow a balanced diet. Add lots of fresh fruit and vegetables into the food. 
In a healthy person, the circulation of the body works properly, consequently the hands are less swollen.

7- Avoid excess salt, alcohol and caffeine because the swelling gets worse.

8- Insert daily exercise into lifestyle. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce swelling in the hands and feet. 
Stretching and resistance exercises that move the muscles of the hand and wrist can help pump the excess fluid around the heart.

9- Putting your hands in a bowl with water and salt allows the liquid to come out of the pores of the skin. 
The water should be warm and should contain a reasonable amount of salt to exploit the principle of osmosis. 
Keep the water soaking for at least 20 minutes.

The NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen are effective in reducing the pain, inflammation and swelling.


Is ice or heat better to help deflate the hand?

For the first 48 hours after injury, avoid things that may increase swelling such as hot showers, tubs, hot compresses or alcoholic beverages. 
After 48-72 hours, if the swelling has disappeared, apply heat and start the gymnastics with the help of a damp heat source to help restore and maintain flexibility. 
Some experts recommend vascular therapy by watering the hand in a bowl with warm water for 30 seconds and then in a fresh water for another 30 seconds.


Home treatments for a mild injury to the hand or wrist

Home treatments can help relieve pain, swelling and stiffness. 
Remove any rings, bracelets, or any other jewelry you put on your finger or wrist. 
It will be more difficult to remove the jewelry when it increases the swelling. 
Follow the “RICE” protocol: rest, ice, compression and elevation for pain and swelling. 
Do not use the injured hand or wrist in the first 24 hours after injury, if possible. 
An elastic bandage may prevent the hand from swelling too much. The band also helps to remember resting the injured hand or wrist. 
wrist cuff can help support the injured wrist. 
Talk to your doctor to see if you should wear bracing or bandage for more than 48 to 72 hours.
Gently massage the area to relieve pain and stimulate blood flow. Do not massage the injured area if it causes pain.

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