What are hand cramps?

Hand cramping can occur for many reasons. Because of significant discomfort in some people. Often, hand cramps are caused by spasms. These sudden involuntary muscle contractions don’t allow. The muscle relaxes and can become painful in some cases.

Hand cramps are an often overlooked cause of pain. They don’t always have a clear cause and can originate from a number of triggers, such as writing for long periods, stress, or other medical problems. Hand cramps can be extremely painful and limit the use of the hands. Luckily, there are various ways to get relief.

Fast facts on hand cramps:

What causes a muscle to spasm or cramp?

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Normally muscle contractions are the result of communication between the body’s brain, spinal cord & muscles. Certain chemicals and proteins are also involved in muscle contraction and are responsible for the shortening and relaxation of muscle fibers

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The brain sends a signal from the spinal cord to the muscle, and that’s how you contract it. Within muscles, chemicals react with proteins and cause the length to shorten and contract. When there is an interruption in the process of muscles contracting, muscle spasms happen. Often, this pain goes away within minutes.

When an abnormal interruption in the process of muscle contraction occurs, muscle spasms can happen. When these cramps happen, most of the time they will go away on their own within a few minutes. Muscle spasms can sometimes be accompanied by twitching, and can be present during rest or following a muscle contraction.

What causes hand cramps?

Causes may include:

Electrolyte imbalances

Electrolyte imbalances are a common side effect of prolonged vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms can be debilitating, so it is important to seek immediate medical treatment when you notice any symptoms. The most common electrolyte imbalance that can happen when you have prolonged vomiting or diarrhea is low potassium levels. This can lead to heart problems like arrhythmias and cardiac arrest, so it’s important to get help immediately. Other electrolyte imbalances that may occur include high sodium levels, high calcium levels, and low magnesium levels.

Electrolytes are substances in our bodies that help keep our bodily functions normal, such as nerve and muscle activity and hydration. They have a huge effect on blood pH, blood pressure, and tissue repair. Muscles require a harmonious electrolyte balance to function correctly and an alteration in these levels can lead to muscle contractions and hand cramps.

For example, vital electrolytes for muscle function include calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium. Changes in these electrolytes can not only cause painful hand cramping due to muscle spasm but can also be life-threatening in certain situations.

Electrolyte imbalances can be caused by several conditions including but not limited to:

Treatment for electrolyte imbalances will depend on several factors including the cause and severity of the condition. A doctor will discuss a detailed plan of care to address this condition.

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Overuse injuries

Writer’s cramp is the catch-all term for a bunch of overuse injuries that are often associated with fine motor movements. Writer’s cramp is a type of overuse injury that can happen when you use those muscles a lot and for too long in a repetitive motion.

Activities that may increase a person’s risk for developing writer’s cramp or an overuse injury include things, such as:

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Rheumatoid arthritis

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis in which the body attacks its healthy cells, causing pain in the affected joints and other parts of the body.

Commonly, the hand joints are affected that can lead to symptoms, such as

  • joint pain or aching
  • joint stiffness, tenderness, and swelling
  • weight loss
  • fever, fatigue, weakness

Treatment for RA may include medications called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or biological response modifiers called biologicals.

Additionally, joint friendly, low-impact exercises may be beneficial to those with RA and include swimming, walking, and biking.

Diabetic stiff hand syndrome

People with diabetes are at risk of developing a condition that can limit finger movement. This is triggered by the hands getting thick and waxy. Diabetes is a disease where the body has trouble releasing insulin. This causes sugar levels to rise, but not have enough energy. There are more than 25 million people in the US, 90% of whom have diabetes.

Sometimes, those with diabetic stiff hand syndrome experience

  • weaker hand joints
  • Hand function is crucial for most people with Parkinson’s, but there are ways to fight back and do normal things. All you need to do is invest in mobility aids that will allow you to live life on your own terms.
  • I struggled to do anything that involved bringing my fingers together.
  • thick, tight, and waxy skin on the hands

Controlling blood sugar levels may prevent a person with diabetes from developing diabetic stiff hand syndrome.

Treatment options may include physical therapy, stretching, and exercises that promote hand flexibility and strength, such as throwing and catching a ball.

How are hand cramps treated?

General home remedies for hand cramps include stretching, swimming, strength building exercises, increasing your fluid intake, and taking vitamin D supplements. Treatments may also be prescribed based on the reason for your symptoms.

To treat low magnesium

Increase magnesium intake by eating more leafy greens, legumes, and whole grains. Take a magnesium (or magnesium and calcium) supplement. If you experience stomach upset, try magnesium chelate, which is easier to digest.

To treat dehydration

For mild dehydration, drink water as well as a rehydration drink with electrolytes, such as Gatorade. You can also create your own rehydration drink with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 6 teaspoons of sugar, and 1 liter of water.

Severe dehydration is a medical emergency, and you should go to the emergency room.

To treat poor circulation

Participate in an exercise program recommended by your doctor. Other treatments depend on the cause of the circulation issue.

To treat carpal tunnel syndrome

Take frequent breaks, avoid activities that aggravate symptoms, and apply a cool pack. Your doctor may also suggest splinting, over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, yoga, physical therapy, or surgery.

To treat stiff hand syndrome

Maintain proper blood glucose levels, and try exercises to strengthen the hand and keep it flexible, such as tossing a ball. Your doctor may also prescribe physical therapy.

To treat rheumatoid arthritis

Your doctor may want you to try nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), or surgery.

To treat kidney disease

Stretch the muscles in your hand, take a bath or hot shower, get a massage, and drink plenty of water. Your doctor may prescribe various medications, depending on the underlying cause of your kidney problems. Be sure to follow a healthy diet to improve your symptoms.


Prevention depends on the cause of your hand cramps. For example, if they’re the result of dehydration caused by workouts in hot weather, try exercising in cooler temperatures and staying hydrated to reduce occurrences.

Other ways to prevent hand cramps include:

Doctors have some advice on how to prevent hand cramps depending on what caused them in the first place. This should be done by a qualified professional.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common hand condition that can be caused by many things. It is important to identify the underlying cause of hand cramps before they get severe and start impacting your day-to-day life. Doctors will be able to work out the cause of one’s hand cramps and offer tips and exercises to prevent them.

Home remedies

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Home remedies may help relieve symptoms. These include:

It is recommended to see a doctor and receive treatment for the underlying cause of the condition. A doctor can also recommend different treatments based on your personal medical history. If you ever experience hand cramps, please know that there are many reasons for it, such as moderate or uncomplicated ones. However, it’s important to identify the causes behind this so that the condition doesn’t worsen and you receive treatment in time.