Arm and hand swelling is not uncommon and it does not necessarily mean that something is wrong. Here are just a few reasons why your hands may be swelling:
Swelling occurs normally at night
This is what makes rings feel tighter when you wake up in the morning. Movement of the extremities pumps the swelling out.
If it is hot outside and you go for a walk, the dilation of the blood vessels in response to the heat will allow the hands and feet to swell while you are on your walk. Movement and constriction of the blood vessels will alleviate the swelling once you are back home and in the air conditioning.
When hand or arm swelling persists, the most common reason is an injury to the arm. Falls, bumps, and overuse can all result in an injury to your arm. RICE is the correct thing to do when this occurs.
Another cause of swelling can be arthritis. This inflammation seems to be persistent around a joint and goes up and down day to day. Patients often complain of their thumb joints hurting, but when they come into therapy it is better. Mild arthritis often times does not show up on an x-ray yet, but learning to modify your behavior to try to control the swelling, pain and joint damage is always a good idea. Check out these tips on how to minimize joint pain.
Lyme disease can also cause hand swelling. It often looks like Rheumatoid arthritis. A description of lyme disease can be found at the Infectious Diseases Society of America website.
Complications from cancer in the lymph system are rarer causes of hand swelling that we have seen. The lymph system is a web of vessels that clear away infection in the body. Swollen lymph nodes are an indication that your body is working to protect you. Lymph node surgery in breast cancer patients can also cause arm swelling. We have also seen some of the lymphoma cancers cause the arms to swell. The American Cancer Society has more information about the various types of cancer on their website.
Please contact us at LB Hand Therapy to schedule an appointment if you need help with your hand swelling or think you are experiencing a more serious issue.