What causes palm pain?

Disease or injury of any of the structures in the hand or palm can result in palm pain. Symptoms may arise from neuromuscular conditions, inflammatory conditions, infections, or diseases that affect the blood flow to the palms.

In addition, palm pain can be caused by underlying conditions that involve the body as a whole, such as diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy, a disorder that causes dysfunction of nerves that lie outside your brain and spinal cord, when it is associated with diabetes can lead to damage of one or more of the nerves in the palm resulting in pain, numbness, and a tingling or burning sensation.

Traumatic causes of palm pain

A number of common injuries, either to the palms or to the nerves that provide feeling and movement to the palms, can cause palm pain. Examples include:

  • Bites or sting injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Dislocation of bones
  • Electrical injury
  • Herniated disc
  • Nerve entrapment or compression, such as of the ulnar nerve
  • Overuse injury
  • Sprains and strains
  • Tendon rupture

Inflammatory causes of palm pain

Inflammation, including inflammation due to infection or arthritis, can cause symptoms that may be present in both palms, one palm, or just a small part of a palm. Examples include:

  • Abscess
  • Cellulitis
  • Gout (type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in the joints)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
  • Rash
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (chronic autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation)
  • Tendinitis

Neuromuscular causes of palm pain

A number of conditions that affect the muscles or nerves in the body can produce palm pain. These conditions include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Dermatomyositis (a condition characterized by muscle inflammation and skin rash)
  • Hand-foot syndrome (HFS), also known as palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia (PPE), a side effect of chemotherapy
  • Raynaud’s disease (spasms of small blood vessels of the fingers and toes, reducing blood circulation; Raynaud’s phenomenon is secondary to many autoimmune disorders such as lupus)

Other causes of palm pain

Other types of chronic diseases and conditions can lead to palm pain. These disorders include:

  • Benign and malignant tumors
  • Blood clots
  • Diabetes (chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to use sugar for energy)
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD, also called peripheral vascular disease, or PVD, which is a narrowing or blockage of arteries due to a buildup of fat and cholesterol on the artery walls, which limits blood flow to the extremities)
  • Transient ischemic attack (temporary stroke-like symptoms that may be a warning sign of an impending stroke)
  • Vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels, which can lead to atherosclerosis, stroke, heart attack, and other cardiac conditions)

Serious or life-threatening causes of palm pain

In some cases, hand tingling or numbness (including the palm), or weakness may be a symptom of a stroke, which is a life-threatening condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting.

Questions for diagnosing the cause of palm pain

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your palm pain including:

  • How long have you had the pain in your palm?
  • What other symptoms are you experiencing?
  • When do your symptoms occur?
  • Are your symptoms worsened or relieved by movement or specific activities?

What are the potential complications of palm pain?

The potential complications of palm pain depend on their cause. Getting prompt treatment of fractured bones, injuries, or infections can help you avoid serious complications, such as deformity or widespread infection. Palm pain associated with serious medical conditions, such as stroke, may have long-term and even potentially life-threatening complications. Left untreated, conditions that cause palm pain may lead to the following complications:

  • Adverse effects of treatment
  • Amputation
  • Joint deformity and destruction
  • Muscle weakness
  • Necrosis (death) of tissues and gangrene, which may require removal of the dead tissues or amputation
  • Paralysis
  • Physical disability
  • Sepsis (life-threatening bacterial blood infection)
  • Spread of cancer
  • Spread of infection


    1. Hand injuries and disorders. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/handinjuriesanddisorders.html.
    2. Mononeuropathy. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001784/.
    3. Ferri FF. Ferri’s Differential Diagnosis, 2d ed. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier, 2011.
    4. Kahan S, Miller R, Smith EG (Eds.). In A Page Signs & Symptoms, 2d ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Williams, 2009.

    What is palm pain?

    Palm pain can result from damage or injury to any of the structures in your palm, including bones, joints, tendons, nerves, muscles, blood vessels, connective tissue, or skin. The symptoms may be constant or they may vary, and they may improve or worsen with movement. You might describe your palm pain as sharp, dull, stabbing, burning or throbbing, and ranging in intensity from mild to severe. ... Read more about palm painintroduction


    What other symptoms might occur with palm pain?

    Palm pain may be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that affect the palm may also involve other systems of your body.

    Traumatic symptoms that may occur along with palm pain

    Palm pain may accompany other symptoms of trauma including:

    Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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