What happens when someone hurts a lot

Why does it hurt to warm up cold hands?

Dear Dr. Mo,

I recently came home from the cold outside to warm up my ice-cold hands. They got warm again, but it hurt terribly! Ouch! Why is that so?

Greetings from Charlotte

Dear Charlotte,

yes, it can actually be very uncomfortable when ice-cold hands get warm again. This is due to the many nerve fibers that end in each finger. They are important so that you can feel well. And it is these nerve endings that go crazy when you warm up cold hands. You then feel that as a stabbing pain.

When your hands get really cold, this is what happens: The blood vessels contract. As a result, the nerve cells in the hand are no longer adequately supplied with oxygen. That puts them in a sleep mode. The cold is stressful for the cells in the hands. Therefore, many processes get mixed up. Substances can also be released that otherwise only occur in the event of inflammation.

If the hands are now warm again, the nerve cells - which were in sleep mode - begin to work again. They notice the disturbance in the environment - and that hurts. The more the cells restore normal conditions, the more the pain subsides. Actually, the pain when warming up is a malfunction. The body is led to believe that there is danger, even though warming up is a good thing.

But there is a trick you can use to avoid greater pain. Hold your hands under lukewarm water, not hot! Then they warm up very slowly. It then hurts less ...

Kind regards, Dr. Mon