Hand/Wrist/Arm Problems

Pain and other problems in the hands, wrists and arms can be caused by injury, certain activities or other health problems. Follow this chart for for more information.

Our trusted Symptom Checker is written and reviewed by physicians and patient education professionals. Find a possible diagnosis by choosing a symptom and answering a few simple questions.

Remember, be sure to consult with you doctor if you feel you have a serious medical problem.

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Did you hit, twist or fall on your arm, hand or wrist?

  • Is the affected area deformed or swollen?

  • Does the pain get worse when you move your arm, hand or wrist?

  • Does the pain get worse with repetitive movement, for example, while you are working or playing a sport?

  • Is it painful to grip a doorknob, and does the pain start on the outside of your elbow and move down your arm to your wrist?

  • Do you have numbness or pain in your fingers, hand, wrist or arm, especially when you flex your wrist?

  • Do you have a firm lump or swelling near your wrist or finger joints?

  • Do you have redness, swelling or pain in the skin around a cut or wound, or is there a red streak anywhere on your arm or hand?

  • Are one or more joints swollen and tender?

Step 3

Possible Causes

  • Diagnosis

    You may have a FRACTURED bone.


    Self Care

    URGENT
    See your doctor right away. Apply ice packs to the affected area. Use a sling to help hold the arm still and reduce pain. Use an over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen to relieve pain and reduce swelling.


  • Diagnosis

    If there is no fracture, the limb may be SPRAINED.


    Self Care

    Avoid activities that cause pain. Apply ice and don’t move your arm. Use an over-the-counter medicine such as ibuprofen to relieve pain and reduce swelling. See your doctor if the pain gets worse.


  • Diagnosis


    Self Care

    Avoid activities that cause pain. Apply ice and don’t move your arm. Use an over-the-counter medicine such as ibuprofen to relieve pain and reduce swelling. See your doctor if the pain gets worse.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have TENDINITIS, inflammation of a tendon.


    Self Care

    Use an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen to relieve pain and reduce swelling, apply ice packs to the area and rest your arm. See your doctor if there is no improvement or if the area becomes swollen, red or warm. These may be signs of infection.


  • Diagnosis

    Your may have TENNIS ELBOW, a type of TENDINITIS.


    Self Care

    Rest the arm, apply ice packs to the elbow, and use an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen. See your doctor if there’s no improvement, you can’t bend your elbow, or if the area becomes swollen, red or warm. These may be signs of infection.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME, a compression of the median nerve in the wrist and hand.


    Self Care

    Use anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling. A wrist splint may also ease pain and numbness. If your symptoms don’t improve, see your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a GANGLION CYST, a common non-cancerous cyst.


    Self Care

    See your doctor if the cyst causes pain or begins to grow rapidly.


  • Diagnosis

    These are all signs of INFECTION in the hand, wrist or arm.


    Self Care

    URGENT
    See your doctor right away. Use an antibiotic ointment on infected cuts.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS, an inflammatory joint condition. You may also have GOUT, or an INFECTION of the joint or bone.


    Self Care

    See your doctor right away. Use an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen to relieve pain and reduce swelling.


  • Diagnosis


    Self Care

    See your doctor right away. Use an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen to relieve pain and reduce swelling.