Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

Hand, wrist and finger problems

How do the hand and wrist work?

The hand and wrist is an extraordinary part of our body and allows us an ability to perform multiple different activities and daily tasks. The hand includes several joints, bones and surrounding soft tissues.

Most of the time there is a very simple explanation for wrist, hand or finger/ thumb pain. Problems often occur as a result of doing too much or something new. As you get older, pain in your wrist, hand or fingers/thumb, can flare up now and again, often for no reason. However the most common cause of wrist, hand and finger problems are as a result of injury or trauma.

The wrist, hand and fingers can cause a range of symptoms such as;

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Pins and needles
  • Numbness
  • Weakness

If you have fallen

If you’ve fallen and injured your wrist, hand, finger or thumb and it becomes immediately swollen, tender, bruised or there is a visible deformity, you should urgently call 111 who will triage if you need urgent care, as there is a small possibility of a bone or ligament injury.


Most people will not require the help of a health professional. In the first 24- 48 hours after a wrist, hand and finger problem it is important to;

  • Rest the affected area from aggravating activity where possible
  • Avoid long period of inactivity
  • Move your wrist, hand and fingers/ thumb gently for 10 to 20 seconds every hour when you are awake
  • Use of ICE or heat can help to manage symptoms
  • Visit your local pharmacy for pain management advice
  • If you have a muscle or ligament injury this video from “The Running Clinic” can help support you in managing your recovery.

New onset or a flare up of a long-standing wrist, hand or fingers/ thumb problems should begin to settle within 6 weeks.

Exercise and activity  

Keeping your wrist, hand and fingers/thumb moving is an essential part of your treatment and recovery. You should try to continue your normal day to day activities where possible.

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.

These videos guide you through simple exercises to help improve and maintain your range of movement and strength;

 When to see a health professional:

  • If your wrist, hand or fingers/thumb are misshapen or deformed following an injury/ trauma
  • You experience ongoing symptoms which do not improve with this self-help advice
  • You are unable to move your wrist, hand or fingers/thumb
  • If you develop morning stiffness in the small joint of the hand and fingers which takes more than 30 minutes to settle.

If you experience ongoing symptoms which fail to improve with self-help advice you may require
a specialist assessment by a hand therapist. Please make an appointment with your GP in order to be referred to our team.

For further advice on the common conditions associated with hand, wrist and finger pain, please refer to the links below:

Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

Help us improve Keeping Me Well!

We’re currently working to improve the Keeping Me Well website. If you’d like to help us make this site a better, more helpful experience for you, please take a few minutes to let us know what improvements you’d like to see.

Skip to content