Limited Range of Motion: Causes and Solutions for Hand Joint Mobility

joint mobility

About 61 million Americans (1 in 4 US adults) have an orthopedic injury that can be disabling. About one in seven adults has the most common disability type: mobility. If you’re experiencing hand joint mobility issues, you’re not alone.

What’s limiting your hand’s range of motion? Is it possible you have a hand disorder? Keep reading to find out.

In this guide, we’ll review a few common hand disorders and causes of hand mobility issues. If these symptoms sound familiar, you can seek help right away.

Consulting a hand surgery specialist is essential. With their help, you can regain complete use of your hand. Otherwise, your symptoms could get worse over time.

Keep reading to learn more about the causes of hand joint mobility today!

Potential Causes

We need our hands to function to achieve our most basic needs. Otherwise, hand pain or limited joint mobility can impact our quality of life.

It’s important to keep track of your symptoms. Then, you can speak with a hand mobility specialist about your condition. They can diagnose the issue to ensure you receive treatment right away.

With their help, you can regain use of your hand. Then, you can return to regular activities without living in pain.

Here are a few reasons you might experience a limited range of motion in your hands.


Arthritis develops due to tissue inflammation along your joints. Inflammation can cause swelling, joint damage, and hand pain. You might notice changes in your joint mobility and range of motion as well.

Two types of arthritis can impact the hand and wrist.

Osteoarthritis is a natural aging process. The protective cartilage in your hand and wrist can wear away. Inflammation, pain, and swelling can occur as a result.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an immune system dysfunction.   Your body launches an attack on the joints.  The cartilage lining can wear away, affecting joint mobility in your hands.

At least 40% of US adults are likely to develop osteoarthritis in at least one hand by age 85. An estimated 30.8 million adults have osteoarthritis. In fact, it’s the most common cause of disability in adults.

Symptoms can include:

  • Swelling
  • Warmth from the inflammation
  • Cysts on the fingers
  • Feeling or hearing a grinding sound
  • Nearby joints becoming flexible
  • Hand pain or burning
  • Lack of strength/a weakened grip
  • Difficulty moving the wrist
  • Pain in the knuckles

With rheumatoid arthritis, you might also experience fever, fatigue, and weight loss.

Thumb Joint Osteoarthritis

Cartilage in the joint at the base of your thumb could wear down from arthritis as well. This condition is common with patients who use their hands and repeat grip movements. For example, people who use tools or instruments are at a higher risk.

When left untreated, you could experience severe pain. You’ll find it’s difficult to complete basic tasks, too.

Symptoms include:

  • A limited range of motion in the thumb
  • Loss of strength when gripping or pinching items
  • A bump on the joint
  • Pain at the base of the thumb
  • Pain when applying pressure to the heel of your hand
  • Stiffness in the morning
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Aching after prolonged use

It’s important to see a hand specialist as soon as you start experiencing symptoms. The sooner you visit a doctor, the sooner you can start treatment. Otherwise, you might struggle to manage your condition.

For example, you can work with a hand therapist to strengthen your tendons and muscles. You can also learn how to reduce the strain on the joint.

Otherwise, you might want to consider surgery for relief. Your hand surgeon can use arthroscopic surgery to clean the joint. This surgery will replace your lost cartilage with a synthetic cushion.

Consider reconstruction of the joint, too. Your surgeon can use a synthetic material or graft. Otherwise, they might suggest a fusion of the bones of the joint.

The ideal surgery for your condition depends on the degree of joint degeneration. The location of the damaged areas can play a part as well.

Hand Cysts and Tumors

Tumors are unusual groups of cells. Not all tumors are cancerous, though.

A ganglion cyst is a type of hand tumor. It usually grows on top or on the inner side of your wrist. You could experience pain as the fluid-filled pouch adds pressure on your nerves.

Symptoms can include:

  • A lump (ganglion cyst)
  • Hand pain and tenderness
  • Limited range of motion

Giant cell tumors of tendon sheath are solid. They grow on the protective covering surrounding your finger tendons.

Surgery can remove your hand cyst or tumor.

Tendon Conditions

Tendons are the tissues that attach your muscles to bones. Tendons move as your muscles flex to help your bones move. Unfortunately, it’s easy to injure your arm and hand tendons.

For example, you might develop tendinitis. This inflammatory condition can cause pain near a joint.

Tennis elbow is a type of tendinitis. It occurs after overuse. It’s common with golf and tennis players.

You can also develop tennis elbow if you twist your wrist regularly or type without support.

Arthroscopic procedures could provide long-lasting results and ease your pain.

You could develop a trigger finger, too. Swelling in the tendons that control your finger bending can keep your tendons from moving. You might notice a catching or popping sensation.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy causes chronic, burning pain. You could also experience:

  • Discoloration of the hand or arm
  • Sweating
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness

You can develop reflex sympathetic dystrophy due to overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system controls involuntary bodily movements like blood flow and sweating.

It’s sometimes difficult to pinpoint the cause of reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Some causes include:

  • A sprain, fracture, or injury to a blood vessel or nerve
  • Pressure on a nerve
  • Neck disorders
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Infection

Your doctor might suggest physical therapy or surgery.

When you see your doctor to discuss your limited hand mobility, let them know when you first experienced symptoms. Where is the pain centralized? Are you experiencing any other symptoms?

They might suggest an X-ray to assess the issue.

Dupuytren’s Disease

As you explore these hand disorders with your doctor, let them know about any joint mobility problems you experience. They might determine you have Dupuytren’s disease.

About 15 million Americans ages 35 and older have Dupuytren disease. That’s 5% of the entire US population. Another 3 million people have bent fingers from Dupuytren disease.

When left untreated, a limited range of motion and hand joint mobility issue can lead to complications. For example, you could develop contracture deformities. This complication is common with Dupuytren’s disease.

This condition develops due to an abnormal thickening of tissue between your palm’s tendons and skin. As the tissue thickens, you might develop a limited range of motion in the fingers. Your fingers might pull in toward your palm as a result.

Many patients first notice a nodule or small lump in their palm. If you notice a nodule, speak to a doctor right away.

Treatment is most effective at this stage. Collagenase injections could help. Otherwise, you’ll need surgery to temporarily restore use to your fingers.

The condition can return in time, though.

A Dupuytren’s disease specialist in Houston, TX can help. They can help you review your options based on your individual case.

DeQuervain’s Disease

Irritation and swelling of the sheath that surrounds your thumb tendons can lead to DeQuervain’s disease. It’s sometimes caused by overuse and repetitive motions. It’s also associated with inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

Pregnant women are at a higher risk of DeQuervain’s disease, too.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain that appears suddenly or gradually
  • Pain that starts in the wrist and travels up the forearm
  • Twinges of hand pain at the base of the thumb
  • Pain that gets worse as you use your hand and thumb

Nonsurgical treatment options include injections, medications, and splits. You’ll need to avoid activities that cause hand joint mobility issues and pain, too.

Otherwise, your doctor might suggest surgery to enlarge the tendon compartment. Surgery can make room for the irritated tendon. Your strength should return, restoring normal use of your hand as a result.

Look for a DeQuervain’s disease specialist in Houston, TX right away.

A Healing Hand: Common Joint Mobility Disorders and Solutions

Don’t live life with a limited range of motion in your hand or arm. Instead, talk to your doctor about your hand joint mobility issues. They can assess your symptoms to help you reach a diagnosis.

With their help, you can start treatment right away.

Have you noticed limited hand joint mobility? Do these symptoms sound familiar? Consider consulting a hand and finger surgeon as soon as possible.

Our hand surgery specialists in Houston, Texas can help.

Contact us to schedule your next appointment today.

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Houston Wrist Pain Specialists Hoth

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The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas offers diagnosis and treatment for hand, wrist, and elbow problems in Houston, using the most advanced and minimally invasive medical techniques. Our orthopedic hand specialists and hand and finger surgeons are waiting to provide you with excellent care at one of our hand care centers in River Oaks, Webster, North Houston, Katy/Sugarland, or Baytown

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