Swollen Hands -- Causes and Cures
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Last updated November 16, 2017, originally published October 7, 2009

By Natalia Real,  Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Doctors and
Registered Nurses and other members of our Editorial Board.]

Whether you suffer from chronic or sporadic swelling,
chances are you’ve seen your hands puff up at some point.
Most people, however, have no idea why this occurs,
largely because they don’t seek medical help but rather
wait until it subsides. Swelling of your hands can be caused
by many conditions. Often, however, the exact cause of the
swelling cannot be determined, in which case it is called
"idiopathic edema". But why wait, when there are ways to
prevent the swelling from happening in the first place?
Following are some of the most common causes and
treatments of hand swelling or edema.

Water Retention

Your hands may swell if you are retaining fluids. When
pregnant, for example, a woman may experience swelling
in various parts of her body because she tends to retain
excess water. Premenstrual women sometimes retain water
as well, usually in the abdominal area, but it may extend to
the extremities.

The solution is simply to reduce sodium consumption by
giving up salt and salty foods and to drink more water and
like fluids – about two liters of water, tea, or juice daily is
the average recommended amount (coffee and soft drinks
do not count).

Be careful to not overdo it. Some sources recommend
drinking five liters daily for people with swollen hands but
drinking this amount of water is considered excessive by
many medical authorities. (Read more about
the amount of
water you should drink --and why )

You may also be able to reduce hands swelling by soaking
your hands in a solution of salt and hot water for an
extended period of time.  Add a pinch of turmeric powder
to the soak if you wish.

The common dandelion plant, which pops up on garden
lawns everywhere, is said to treat water retention. This
humble plant is actually stuffed with vitamins and minerals,
containing vitamins A, B, C and D as well as zinc,
magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, calcium, silicon and

In a 1974 study by Racz-Kotilla E, Racz G, and Solomon A.
entitled "The action of Taraxacum officinale extracts on the
body weight and diureses of laboratory animals" dandelion
leaves were shown to have a mild diuretic effect and were
proposed as a treatment for people suffering from mild
water retention and associated swelling, including in the
hands. Dandelion leaves can be eaten cooked or in salads,
or dandelion can be taken as an extract or tincture.

If you're suffering from water retention and swollen hands
due to PMS, try a dose of
magnesium. A 1998 study from
the Department of Food Science and Technology, University
of Reading, UK found the regular use of magnesium
supplements can reduce the symptoms of fluid retention
during PMS. Researchers gave 38 women magnesium or
placebo supplements for two months. At the end of two
cycles of this treatment, the magnesium takers were
experiencing reduced swelling, bloating and weight gain.
(Read more about
why you need magnesium every day.)

Pre-eclampsia in Pregnancy

Some pregnant women suffer from pregnancy-induced
hypertension - a rise in blood pressure - while others are
faced with the more serious condition called pre-eclampsia.
With pre-eclampsia, the blood pressure rise brings with it
protein in the urine. Women can suffer swollen hands,
sudden weight gain, swollen face, and other symptoms.
Pre-eclampsia is very serious and can lead to seizures or to
liver and kidney problems so you should always consult
your doctor if you are pregnant and experience suddenly
swollen hands.

Some experts claim calcium helps reduce the risk of pre-
eclampsia and hypertension. A 2002 study from the
University of the Witwatersrand, Frere/Cecilia Makiwane
Hospitals, South Africa carried out a review of 11 studies
into calcium supplementation that looked at over 6,000
pregnant women and found that calcium reduced pre-
eclampsia risk by a small amount. Calcium was of most
benefit to women who had a very low calcium intake or
who were at risk of hypertension.  (Read more about
natural remedies for  
high blood pressure during


Swelling of the joints in the hands, feet, and elsewhere in
the body are common symptoms of the chronic
inflammatory condition known as
arthritis. According to the
University of Maryland Medical Center, the swelling occurs
as water accumulates in the tissue surrounding the joints.
Physical therapy may be recommended as treatment by
your physician. If your pain is severe, and particularly if it
is accompanied by other symptoms, you should contact
your doctor.

What we call "arthritis" actually is more than one disease.
There are 100 different types of arthritis, according to the
Arthritis Foundation of America. The treatment your doctor
recommends will depend on the source of your arthritis.


Inflammatory Erosive Hand Arthritis

A special related condition known as inflammatory
osteoathritis (or "erosive arthritis") appears suddenly, and
causes swelling of the joints and soft tissues of the hand.
As a 2010 study from the University of Padova observed,
this form of hand arthritis is far more inflammatory than
other forms of arthritis, and requires medical intervention.]

Certain natural remedies, herbal supplements and topical
creams have been recommended for the treatment of
swollen hands caused by arthritis. In particular, a 2002
study from Hesslink Ventures, San Diego, California
claimed  a kind of naturally occurring fatty acid called
cetylated fatty acids helps improve the levels of swelling in
the knee joint, as well as mobility and levels of pain. The
decrease in swelling could equally be applied to the hands.
The cetylated fatty acids were applied as a topical product
and were tested by 64 arthritis patients.

Prolotherapy is also touted as a treatment for arthritis in
the hands. Prolotherapy is a type of injection procedure
where chemical solutions are injected into the area
surrounding swollen and painful joints.

A 2000 study from Meadowbrook Rehabilitation Hospital,
Gardner, Kansas carried out a double-blind trial using three
injections at two-month intervals in 27 people with
osteoarthritis in the hands. The results after six months
showed significant improvement in swelling, range of
motion and pain.

And it seems that gin isn't only good for making martinis. A
1987 study from the University of Naples Federico II, Italy
suggested that gin-soaked raisins were effective as a
treatment for arthritis. The juniper berries that gin is made
from possess anti-inflammatory powers, researchers
suggested, making gin useful for easing swelling associated
with arthritis. The evidence is weak but it's there - further
study is needed to fully verify researchers' claims.

Exercise and Hot Weather Can Cause Swollen Hands

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