Pain in the Hands After Exercise

Certain physical activities can cause muscle soreness in the hands, but pain that lasts after exercising could be a sign of edema, carpal tunnel syndrome or a break. Determining why you are experiencing hand pain after exercising and how to go about treating it are sometimes tricky, so it's important to see your doctor if the pain recurs or doesn't subside.

Close up of weight lifter holding bar. Credit: Jesus Trillo Lago/iStock/Getty Images

Muscle Pain

Some hand and finger pain from sports that require dexterity, like golf and weightlifting, is normal and can often be attributed to delayed onset muscles soreness. This type of pain will usually go away on its own shortly. The RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) may help ease pain and reduce swelling, but if the pain lasts more three days or is severe, then visit a doctor. Wearing specialty gloves or grips may help reduce muscle pain while engaging in dexterity-related exercises and sports.

Swelling

The swelling and tingling in your hands that occurs during and after walking or similar exercises is referred to as edema. Medically, the reason for the swelling is an increase in the volume of fluids in between cells, and it can happen for a variety of reasons. Excessive heat, dehydration and high intake of sodium can lead to edema. Carl "Chip" Lavie, MD, director of the Exercise Laboratories at Ochsner Clinic Foundation, told Fitness Magazine that you can prevent hand swelling by performing arm-exercise movements, such as bicep curls without weights, as you walk.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is common among people who perform repetitive motions of the hand and wrist, such as playing raquetball or handball, according to the National Institutes of Health. Some of the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness or tingling in the thumb and next two or three fingers of one or both hands, numbness or tingling of the palm of the hand, and weakness in one or both hands. Treatment includes discontinuing the specific sport or exercise, taking medications such as ibuprofen to reduce pain or having surgery. While symptoms often improve with less-invasive treatment, more than 50 percent of cases eventually require surgery, according to the NIH.

Breaks

An additional reason for pain in the hands after exercise that should not be ruled out is a fracture. Fractures can occur either in the small bones of the fingers (phalanges) or the long bones (metacarpals). Signs and symptoms of a broken bone in the hand include swelling, tenderness or the inability to move a particular finger, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. While many breaks can be realigned by having a doctor manipulating them, sometimes surgery is necessary to restore the hand to full functionality.

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