At-home treatment and when to seek care from a doctor
When pain develops in your hand, wrist or elbow, it can be difficult to determine if you should seek professional treatment or assess your injury at home.
In the most basic terms, it all comes down to the amount of pain you are in and what your body is telling you. If something is obviously wrong, like you are unable to move your finger or rotate your wrist, you should seek medical care right away.
At-home treatment for hand, wrist or elbow pain
If pain is bearable and there is not an obvious deformity, at home treatment such as rest, ice or bracing may help relieve pain and swelling.
What if pain is dull, but still won’t go away?
Sometimes you or your child may experience hand, wrist or elbow pain that seemingly comes out of nowhere and lingers for a long period of time. If at home treatment methods don’t work or only work for a short period of time, you may need medical attention.
Conditions like tennis elbow, carpal tunnel or arthritis can have painful flare-ups for a period of time and then go away. These types of conditions need medical attention even if the pain isn’t urgent or consistent. It doesn’t mean you need surgery, you may just need physical therapy or other non-operative treatment methods to relieve pain.
It all comes down to assessing your pain and listening to what your body is telling you. If the pain isn’t acute, such as severe swelling and deformity after a sudden injury, you can probably avoid an emergency room visit.
If the pain is dull and goes away with at-home treatment you don’t need to follow-up with a medical professional. However, if the pain is consistent or comes and goes over a long period of time, it may be signs of an underlying condition and you should make an appointment with a hand, wrist and elbow specialist.
Download a Parent’s Guide to At-Home Treatment for Finger, Hand, Wrist or Elbow Injuries
When should you see a doctor for a wrist injury, elbow pain or finger injury?
Ask yourself a few questions about the pain you are feeling.
- Does it hurt when you press on it?
- Is it red, bruised or inflamed?
- Is it swollen, stiff or are you unable to move it?
- How would you rate your pain on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 minimal pain and 10 the worst pain you’ve experienced)?
If you answered yes to the first three questions and your pain is above a five, you should visit an urgent care clinic or make an appointment with a hand specialist. If your pain is low and improving, you can probably use at-home treatment methods to relieve pain.
Visit an OrthoIndy Urgent Care located throughout Indianapolis with weekend and evening hours or make an appointment with an OrthoIndy hand, wrist and elbow specialist.
Read more about when to seek help from a doctor for finger, hand, wrist or elbow injuries (Blog article)