That’s because, while some cases of grip weakness are the result of natural aging, others can be indicative of larger, more serious health problems.
“Having a weak grip can be an indication of many things, including arthritis, a pinched nerve or a nerve injury, among other conditions,” says DeLuca. “Assessing grip strength, along with the patient’s’ medical history and other presenting symptoms, can tell us a great deal about the person’s overall health. “
As DeLuca notes, the causes of hand weakness are numerous, and range from the fairly common and innocuous to the downright serious. Along with natural aging, a weak grip can also result from acute injuries such as broken bones, sprains or burns. But in other cases – especially in those instances of grip weakness that seem to occur suddenly – the causes can be much more severe.
Among the conditions that are linked to grip weakness include the following:
If you experience sudden weakness and are concerned it could be a sign of a stroke or other emergency, make sure to seek immediate medical attention, DeLuca says. However, if it’s not an emergency, consider consulting with a physician or an occupational or physical therapist.
“Having a weak grip is not necessarily an emergent situation unless it comes on quickly,” DeLuca says. “Gradual decline in grip strength is something to be monitored, and if it begins to affect your daily functioning and ability to complete tasks during the day, then you may want to see your physician or an occupational or physical therapist for help.”
Many patients suffering from hand weakness can help their cause through daily exercises that can keep their hand, wrist and arm muscles engaged and active, she says. Squeezing special hand-therapy putty or therapy balls, completing hand and wrist stretches and other simple activities can help keep your grip strong and your days active.