Warm or Burning hands: What Causes This?

Occasionally having warm hands isn’t an issue, but it does once it is accompanied by pain.

a small flower on palm of hands

The cliché saying goes “Cold hands, warm heart.” So, would the opposite of it mean the same? While occasionally having warm hands isn’t an issue, it does once it is accompanied by pain. Here are the other possible causes of burning hands and several treatments.

Causes & Treatment: Medical Conditions 

Fibromyalgia

This condition is characterized by pain felt in different locations of the body. It is also characterized by general fatigue and a burning sensation in the feet and hands. Further indications of fibromyalgia include the following.

  •  Anxiety
  •  Depression
  •  Development of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  •  Difficulty Getting Sleep or Staying Asleep 
  •  Difficulty in Focusing
  •  Headaches
  •  Pain in Lower Abdomen

Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose. However, an individual may have it if there is no discernible cause for the widespread pain felt for more than three months. Treatment of fibromyalgia include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, or muscle relaxants. Alternative therapies such as yoga, massage, and acupuncture are also recommended for pain alleviation. 

Palmar Erythema

Burning hands could be an indication of palmar erythema which is a rare condition of the skin. It also results in splotches of red on the fingers or palms. The cause for the condition still has no identifiable cause, but research suggests that it may be genetic. Various conditions that may lead to palmar erythema include the following.

Since there is no discernible cause of the condition, it is difficult to treat. However, if the reason for palmar erythema can be distinguished, such as those mentioned above, then the underlying cause may be treated. This leads to a clearing up of the symptom of burning hands. 

Peripheral Neuropathy

Another condition that causes a burning sensation in the hands is peripheral neuropathy. This is the dysfunction of the nerves due to damage caused by another medical condition. Such a condition commonly associated with peripheral neuropathy include the following.

  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Bacterial or Viral Infections
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Hypothyroidism

Apart from a warm sensation in the hands, the hands, as well as the feet, may manifest a tingling sensation, numbness, weakness, feeling of heaviness, or a bussing sensation. Symptoms of this condition also include low blood pressure, sharp pain, or erectile dysfunction.

The treatment is usually focused on the management of the identified cause. As for managing symptoms, doctors may recommend anticonvulsant medications, pain medications, or alternative treatment methods like acupuncture.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The median nerve is located from the forearm to the palm, within the carpal tunnel found in the wrist. Undue pressure on the median nerve may result in a burning sensation in the hands. This is indicative of carpal tunnel syndrome. Additional symptoms of this condition include the following.

  • Burning or Pain Moving Up the Arm
  • The weakness of Wrist or Hand Muscles
  • Numbness in Wrist, Palm, or Fingers
  • Tingling Sensation Felt in Fingers or Palm

Many factors can result in carpal tunnel syndrome which includes hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, injuries to the wrist, or poorly-controlled diabetes mellitus. Treatment is focused on managing the pain such as the following.

  • Use of a hand splint that keeps the hand neutral.
  • Avoid positions that overextend or over flex the wrist.
  • Use of corticosteroid injections or NSAIDs
  •  Surgery

Erythromelalgia

Another condition that may cause warm hands is erythromelalgia which is quite rare. More symptoms associated with this condition include increased sweating, purple or red-colored skin, and swelling. 

The cause of the condition has yet to be identified, but doctors claim it may be linked to blood vessels. When blood vessels do not narrow or dilate as they should, it affects the flow of blood to the legs or arms. Underlying medical conditions may also cause erythromelalgia such as autoimmune disorders, nerve damage, or bone marrow disorders.

Cooling techniques like putting the hands in cool water may help alleviate the burning sensation in the hands. Additional treatment methods include elevation of the hands, the use of topical creams that contain lidocaine, and the use of medications like antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants, or agonists. It is also advised that an individual with erythromelalgia avoid places with warm temperatures and avoid using hot water. 

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Malfunctions in the immune and nervous system are linked to a complicated condition called reflex sympathetic dystrophy. It is also called complex regional pain syndrome or CRPS. Such malfunctions in the immune and nervous system are usually a result of an injury, infection, cancer, or stress. 

Warm hands are indicative of CRPS, but it may also cause other parts of the body to feel warm. Sweating, swelling, pain, or joint stiffness are other symptoms of this condition. An individual may also feel extremely sensitive to cold or heat.

There are numerous treatment options for CRPS depending on an individual’s symptoms. Such treatment methods include the following. 

  1.   Anesthetic Injections
  2.   Surgical or Physical Therapy
  3.   Biofeedback
  4.   Medicines (Anticonvulsants, Corticosteroids, NSAIDs)

Cellulitis

The body increases its temperature to fight against infections, particularly in the area affected. One such infection that causes warm hands is cellulitis. It takes place deep within skin tissues and spreads quickly. This condition is usually a result of an injury to the tissue. Treatment involves antibiotic therapies. 

Causes & Treatment: External Factors

If the cause of warm hands is not identified as a medical condition, then it is most likely caused by external factors. These include the following.

Exercise

Any activity involving intense or frequent hand movement results to warm hands. There is no treatment necessary when the cause for warm hands is clearly the excessive movement. 

High Blood Pressure

An increase in blood flow to a specific area of the body results in warmth. So, individuals with high blood pressure are likely to have warm feet or hands. There is a test done to assess if high blood pressure is indeed the cause for warm hands or another underlying medical condition. 

External Temperature Changes

If the weather is warm, then the hands may feel warm as well. A physical activity that requires an individual to cover the hands despite the hot weather may cause the hands to feel more heated than the body. 

When to Worry?

Warm hands should not be the cause for concern. However, if warm or burning hands are accompanied by pain, confusion, fever, or a racing heartbeat, then immediate medical attention is recommended.

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