Sudden swollen hands, or edema, can be the result of a variety of factors, reports Healthgrades. While gradual hand swelling may be a sign of an inflammatory condition, sudden swelling may be a result of injury, infection or side effects to medication.
Hands can swell suddenly as a reaction to obvious and serious trauma and injury, including broken bones, wounds and severe bruises. Infected wounds can also cause swelling around the affected area, explains Healthgrades. Sudden swelling can also occur following less superficially obvious injuries, such as muscle pulls or tearing of tissue in the hand.
Hand swelling can also be the result of conditions unrelated to injury, notes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Ganglion cysts are non-cancerous, fluid-filled masses that grow out of joints. These cysts can appear in multiple joints of the wrist and hand, and they can quickly appear or disappear. In pregnant women, pre-eclampsia, a condition caused by high blood pressure and high levels of urinary protein, can cause rapid hand swelling, according to WebMD. If this is the case, head and body pain, as well as nausea, may accompany swollen hands.
Hand swelling is a common side effect of several types of medication. Steroids, anti-depressants, diabetes medications, blood pressure medications and hormones can cause rapid hand swelling, explains Healthgrades.