First aid

08 July 2011

Helping hands

We use our hands for everything, but what happens when an injury or condition makes even simple tasks painful? CyberDoc answers questions about conditions that affect hands.


We use our hands for almost everything we do.  In fact, our position at the top of the food chain has been attributed to our opposable thumbs which allow us to wield weapons and use tools. 

But what happens when hands get injured, wear out or an illness makes performing even the easiest tasks painful?  CyberDoc answers some basic questions about conditions that affect hands. 

Q:  Fingers
The skin around my nails on both my middle fingers is very hard and sore. Any idea what I can do to fix this?

A:  I suggest that you consult your doctor for an analysis of nail clippings. It is possible that you have a fungal infection but a clear diagnosis has to be made, in order to prescribe treatment.

Q:  Itching
I started itching yesterday on my hands and feet.  Since then it has spread across the rest of my body. I don't have a rash that I can see and I don't have a dry skin at the moment. I can't think that I've been anywhere unusual that I can have an allergic reaction, but I am itching all over!
Please help

A:  I suggest that you consult your doctor for an examination and to have allergy tests done. In the interim you can get an antihistamine to alleviate your symptoms. Anthisan cream could also improve your symptoms. These products are available over the counter at pharmacies but I still suggest that you consult your doctor.

Q:  Just too much pain

I suffer with gout and take Puricos and cholechine, but this is not helping me at all.  My hands,  elbows, shoulders and feet are sore all the time.  My feet feel bruised when I walk, in the morning my pillow is too heavy to lift as my hands are sore, and after sitting for a period of time, I battle to walk. I have also been taking Cataflam and Stilpyn, but these don't help me either.  It is getting to the point where it is becoming to much to handle. 

A:  You may be having another joint disease underlying or with the gout, and I strongly advise you to see a rheumatologist for further tests and x/rays of the affected joints. You may need other medication additional to your gout medication.

Q:  Osteoarthritis and calcium

I have arthritis in my hands ( I am 59 years old) and someone has mentioned that the calcium supplement I am taking may be making it worse. Can this be so? And if so, what should I be doing to counteract this? 

A:  Calcium will not aggravate your arthritis and is in fact necessary to prevent osteoarthritis. Refer to the following link regarding arthritis: surgery 

Q:  Dark skin on hands

I am a pretty lady, but my hands and legs are much darker than my face and arms.  My husband teases me about it.  Is there any way that I can change this with a product, or is there a medical procedure?

A:  One must be very careful to use over the counter creams and lotions for skin lightening as it can irritate the skin and cause even more darkening. Best would be to see dermatologist who will be able to prescribe the correct medication.

Q:  Burning Hands and Pain

Since yesterday I seem to be having pain and a burning sensation in both my fingers and hands.
It's not a pain that I can't handle, but it is horrible. Should I be worried about this?

A:  Burning, needles and pins or a "lame" feeling in your hands could be due to pressure on the nerves in the neck (caused by a disc lesion), peripheral neuropathy due to diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, or a trigger point or two in the forearm muscles. Rather see your doctor to determine the cause to be able to get the correct treatment for the cause.


I would like to know which tabs or vitamins I can use for restless leg syndrome because now my hands are also troubling me, rubbing them together.  Every night I have to rub my feet together, please help my husband is getting annoyed.

A:  You need prescription medication - see your GP or preferably a neurologist to prescribe the right medication for you.


Q:  Pain

I am a 32 year-old-female.  I have 3 children, between the ages of 6 months and 7 years. I have pain in my hands, elbows, knees and sometimes shoulders and feet.  It is bad when I wake up in the morning. So much so, that I have to take a pain tablet.  It sometimes feels as if my whole arm or leg or back is sore.

It's difficult to explain – it is a dull pain. At the end of the day it gets worse again and I take pain medication about 3 times a day. I struggle with headaches and sometimes nausea, an am very tired as well. Could you please suggest anything else that might help?

A:  I think you should see a rheumatologist as your symptoms could be due to an inflammatory joint disease. They need to take some blood tests and may need to X-ray one or two of the most affected joints. Ask your GP to refer you. Taking pain medication daily may cause kidney damage and rebound headaches in the long term.

Q:  Painful cold left hand
Thank you so much for your time. I'm a lady aged 58, I noticed 2 days ago that my left hand is extremely cold, it feels like I've worked in the freezer. I thought it was the severe cold we're experiencing, but even now during a lovely sunny day my hand is still very cold.  Now there is a funny pain in the hand, especially at my ring and middle finger. 

A:  You should see an orthopaedic surgeon to examine your hand as soon as possible to ensure that the circulation in your hand is not compromised by something - like an occlusion of one of the arteries supplying the hand. 

Q:  Shooting pain in hands
I often have shooting pains in my hands from my wrists to the tips of my fingers. The other day I tried to peel a potato, but it was just too painful to do so, also struggle a lot when I'm doing sewing. What could the problem be? 

A:  One of the causes could be a nerve compression in the wrist e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome. You should consult an orthopaedic surgeon to make the diagnosis and suggest the correct treatment.

More info:

Shoulders, arms and hands

Send your hand questions to CyberDoc or the Orthopaedic Specialist

(Joanne Hart, Health24, July 2011)


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