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We’ve all had pain, numbness or a slight twinge in our hand or arm that we brush off, but at what point should you talk with a health care provider?

We’ve all had pain, numbness or a slight twinge in our hand or arm that we brush off, hoping it will go away.

But what if it doesn’t? And when should you see a doctor about it?

The simple answer is “sooner rather than later,” says Blaine T. Bafus, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with the MetroHealth Hand and Upper Extremity Center.

“If something is impacting your quality of life, keeping you from doing activities that you enjoy, or preventing you from doing your job effectively, then you should get it checked out.”

Here are some common hand and arm ailments you shouldn’t ignore:

Trigger Finger

Each finger has a tendon sheath that acts as a tunnel for the tendons to glide through. Trigger finger occurs when the tendon cannot glide through the tendon sheath because one or both are inflamed.

Symptoms include a bent finger that doesn’t straighten; finger stiffness or pain; or a bump near the base of the affected finger. Opening or closing fingers will become difficult and may happen with a painful click or snap. In extreme cases, the finger can become stuck down into the palm of the hand and it won’t straighten back out.

Developing trigger finger can be more random as opposed to overuse, but one of the leading risk factors is having poorly controlled diabetes.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the nerve that provides sensation to much of the hand. Repetitive motions are associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Symptoms include pain and discomfort in the wrist, fingers, or hand, including numbness, tingling, and stiffness. But it’s not always that clear cut, said Dr. Bafus. “Sometimes patients present with the sensation of fullness or swelling in their hand, but when I look at it, it appears normal” he said.

MetroHealth’s orthopedics and spine teams work closely to evaluate patients with possible carpal tunnel syndrome, as hand numbness also can be caused by neck disease or a pinched nerve in the neck.

Ganglion cyst: A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled bump that sits on a joint or tendon on the finger, wrist or back of the hand.

Thumb tendonitis: Inflamed tendons in the thumb occur with overuse or in patients who have gout or arthritis. Pain often starts on the thumb side of the wrist and can move up into the entire hand.

Are you ready to meet with a hand and upper extremity expert? 

MetroHealth’s Hand and Upper Extremity Center offers a wide range of treatments, depending on the condition and its severity. Cortisone injections and bracing often are used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger. Surgery is also an option, providing safe lasting relief, with the patient going home the same day.

Request an appointment today or call 216-778-HAND (4263)


Blaine T. Bafus, MD