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

By Natalia Real,  Featured Columnist

Exercise and Hot Weather Can Cause Swollen Hands

Hand swelling can occur due to walking, jogging, or other
types of exercise and particularly in hot and humid
weather. Manual labor can also cause swelling, although in
this case, the reason would be enlarged muscles in the

Swollen hands or puffy, large fingers are unfortunate
consequences of exercise for many people. You may not be
able to remove your rings after walking or running.

Hand swelling caused by exercise is fairly common but the
reasons are not fully understood. Experts believe it has to
do with the way your blood vessels behave in response to

When you walk or run you increase the blood flow to your
muscles and to your heart and lungs, which in turn reduces
the blood flowing to your hands. Your hands become
cooler and your blood vessels can overreact to the situation
by widening, causing your hands to swell.

In certain cases, endurance athletes, marathon runners and
people who put themselves through challenging sports can
develop a condition called hyponatremia. Hyponatremia is
caused by abnormally low levels of sodium in your body
and swollen hands are a sign of this condition, along with
confusion and vomiting. If you drink too much water
during a long and strenuous sports event or race you are
putting yourself at risk of hyponatremia. (Learn more
exactly how much water you should drink every day
and why. )

If the cause of your swollen hands is exercise, try this
remedy. Regularly raise your hands over your head and
squeeze your hands together in a fist while walking or
jogging so blood is not continually flowing down your arms
and into your hands, where it pools. In most cases, this
condition is harmless.

Other Possible Causes of Hand Swelling

These are vast and can range from hand injuries to carpal
tunnel syndrome, insect bite and sting allergies, impaired
circulation, hyperthyroidism, obesity, cancer, and other
life-threatening conditions. If in doubt, consult with your


What Causes Hand Swelling at Night?

Do your hands swell at night? If you experience hand
swelling at night, you could be suffering from carpal tunnel
syndrome. Since many of us sleep with our wrists flexed at
night, this position aggravates the carpal tunnel, and can
cause hand swelling or the perception of hand swelling at
night. In fact, a 1999 study from Harvard Medical School
(in affiliation with Spaulding Rehabilition Hospital) found
that so many people who complain of hand swelling end up
having carpal tunnel syndrome, that physicians should
consider any such complaint as a primary symptom of
carpal tunnel.

Walking Your Dog Causes Swollen Hands?

One unusual cause of swollen hands is walking your dog.
Researchers have found that many people report that their
hands swell after walking their dogs. The 2011 study, by
doctors at the  Centre for Orthopaedics and Health in Sao
Paolo Brazil reported that the so-called "big hand
syndrome" appears to be common and is reported more by
women than men.

Breast Cancer Can Cause Swollen Hands

Depending on the location of the tumor, breast cancer can
in rare cases contribute to edema in many areas, including
your hands. But more often, it is the treatment for breast
cancer --- surgery --- which  causes edema in the hands,
breast and arms, according to a 2015 study from The Ohio
StateUniversity School of Medicine.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Swelling of the hand may or may not involve the fingers.
With respect to finger swelling, psoriatic arthritis is a
leading cause.

Contributions to this article were made by Associate
Editor, Louise Carr.

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