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All about wrist, hand and finger problems

Wrist, hand and finger problems can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • stiffness
  • pins and needles
  • numbness

You don’t normally need to see a healthcare professional. New onset or flare-up of a longstanding wrist, hand and finger problem should begin to settle within 6 weeks.

What should I do?


Keeping your wrist, fingers and thumb moving is an essential part of your treatment and recovery. Keeping active is the single best thing you can do for your general health.

Within the first 24 to 48 hours after a wrist, hand or finger/thumb problem developing you should try to:

  • rest your wrist, hand or finger/thumb but avoid long spells of not moving at all
  • move your wrist, hand or finger/thumb gently for 10 to 20 seconds every hour when you’re awake

After 48 hours:

Try to use your arm more – exercise really helps your hand.

What about pain relief?

Pain medication can help to reduce the pain and help you move more comfortably, which can help your recovery.

Speak to your community pharmacist  about taking medication or other methods of pain relief​. It’s important to take medication regularly.​

What about work, sports?

It’s recommended you stay at or return to work as quickly as possible during your recovery. You don’t need to be pain and symptom-free to return to work. Avoid sports or heavy lifting until you have less discomfort and good movement. Remember to warm up fully before you start sporting activities.

When to speak to a health professional

  • your wrist or fingers are misshapen following an injury
  • you can’t move your wrist, hand or fingers at all
  • you develop pain and stiffness in the small joints in your hand in the mornings that takes more than 30 minutes to settle

Help and support

  • If, after following the above advice, your wrist, or hand, finger or thumb problem hasn’t improved within 6 weeks a self-referral to TIMS may be of benefit.
  • To refer yourself to TIMS you will need to have your NHS number to hand.
  • For information on where to find your NHS number see NHS England – How can I find out my NHS number?