Ask a doctor: 'Why are my hands swelling and what should I do about it?'

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If you notice your hands swelling, it can be both uncomfortable and alarming, but in most cases the cause can be situational – caused by factors such as temperature, exercise, diet, medications you are taking, or certain health conditions.

It may be that your rings do not fit properly.

To learn more about the condition, Fox News Digital asked two doctors what causes hand swelling and what can be done to treat it.

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Here's what you need to know.

What causes hand swelling?

Most often, swelling of the hand is due to fluid accumulation in the soft tissue.

“Soft tissue, or edema, is not always a cause for concern, and can occur with weather changes or fluid shifts in the body,” says Amy Kehl, MD, RhMSUS, a board-certified rheumatologist at Saint John's Physician Partners in Santa Monica, California .

Fluid shifts can occur with too much salt intake — which can lead to increased hand or foot swelling, experts say. (Getty Images)

According to Kehl, most patients experience some degree of soft tissue swelling or edema in hot weather and with exertion.

Fluid shifts can also occur with too much salt intake, she noted, which can lead to increased hand or foot swelling, she said.

“Certain medications can contribute to soft tissue swelling in the hands or feet.”

“In addition, certain medications, such as blood pressure medications such as amlodipine; steroids such as Prednisone or Medrol; or hormone treatments, can contribute to soft tissue swelling in the hands or feet,” Kehl added.

What are the more serious causes of hand swelling?

If a person notices an increase in swelling of the hand or foot that is not reversible or intermittent – or if the swelling of the hand is also accompanied by swelling of the legs with marked increases in blood pressure or shortness of breath – medical attention should be sought invoked, Kehl said.

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A person “should ensure that they have had appropriate medical evaluation to assess both kidney and heart function, as swelling of the hand or foot may be an indicator of kidney dysfunction, protein loss in the urine, or heart dysfunction,” she warned.

doctor discussing topic with patient

“Soft tissue swelling or edema is not always a cause for concern, and can occur with weather changes or fluid shifts in the body,” said one medical professional. But in some cases, patients need to consult their doctor to get to the root of the problem. (iStock)

“Your doctor may order tests to assess your kidney function, urine tests or, in some cases, an echocardiogram.”

Diuretics may be needed to remove the excess fluid if it is related to heart disorders, she said.

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Another possible cause of fluid retention is lymphedema, which can occur if the patient has undergone surgery, such as a lymph node resection for breast cancer treatment, Kehl said.

“This can be treated with local lymphatic drainage treatments, arm elevation, compression sleeves and exercises,” the doctor said.

“Patients should seek immediate medical attention if new and asymmetrical swelling and pain develop.”

Individuals should also be aware of other symptoms.

“Certainly, if the swelling of the hand is accompanied by joint pain, it may indicate an underlying inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis,” Kehl told Fox News Digital. “Again, an examination may be warranted to differentiate soft tissue swelling from joint or joint swelling.”

Pain in woman's hand

If a patient notices swelling of the hand along with swelling of the face or lip, it requires immediate medical attention, a healthcare provider said. (iStock)

Patients should also be aware that the swelling is asymmetrical.

“This could be a sign of something more serious, such as a blood clot, and patients should seek immediate medical attention if new and asymmetrical swelling and pain develop,” Kehl warned.

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If a patient notices swelling of the hand along with swelling of the face or lip, it requires immediate medical attention, she said.

What are some ways to reduce hand swelling?

If hand swelling is thought to be due to “benign causes,” it is usually reversible, Kehl noted.

“For example, to reduce swelling of the hands after exercise, raising the hands and performing arm circles can be helpful to increase blood flow to the hands,” she said.

Yoga in the park

To help relieve swelling, exercise can help. “Stretch both arms up, move your hands and wrists, and make fists several times,” said one doctor. (iStock)

Likewise, you may need to review your medication list with your medical provider to identify any pharmaceutical culprits.

“Normally, the swelling should go away when the medication is stopped,” Kehl said.

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The diet should also be monitored.

“Staying well hydrated can help keep fluids circulating.”

Maintaining the proper balance between salt and water is important, and reducing salt intake and following a low-sodium diet may be advisable for some patients, the expert noted.

Lifestyle changes, such as exercise, can also be implemented to help relieve swelling.

elderly hands folded

Maintaining a good salt and water balance is important, as is reducing salt intake and following a low-sodium diet. (iStock)

“Stretch both arms up, move your hands and wrists, and make fists several times,” Beth Oller, MD, a family physician at Rooks County Health Center in Stockton, Kansas, told Fox News Digital.

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Running your hands under cool water can help, she said, and removing jewelry or pulling clothes together while exercising can also help prevent swelling due to temperature changes.

“Staying well hydrated can also help keep fluids circulating,” Oller added.

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Pregnancy is another common cause of swelling. In that case, Oller said moving the limbs can help.

“If swelling occurs suddenly or is extreme during pregnancy, contact your doctor immediately as it could be a symptom of increased blood pressure,” she also said.

For more health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

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