Our hands are complex machines that do more for us than we’re even aware of. With 27 bones and joints, 34 muscles, and over 100 ligaments and tendons in each hand, there is a lot that can go wrong, even if you don’t work with your hands extensively. If you are suffering from pain in your finger joints, palms, or wrists, you might find relief and get strategies for preventing more pain and stiffness by scheduling some physical therapy sessions.
Hand Complaints That Can Benefit From Physical Therapy
Pain and stiffness in the hands can be caused by a variety of factors and conditions, but often it’s just a question of mechanics and genetics. That means that even people who don’t do repetitive work with their hands can still experience discomfort and a loss of flexibility. Some of the most common hand problems include:
- Repetitive-use injuries. Using your hands to make the same motions over and over throughout the day can lead to muscle, joint, or tendon strain that can limit mobility and cause pain. Having a job where you use a computer mouse, scan grocery items, fill warehouse orders, or work on an assembly line can cause this kind of stress to the hand.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the nerve in the wrist from overuse or exertion but can manifest as pain and numbness in the fingers and hand. It can also cause a weak grip and pinch.
- Arthritis. Swollen and stiff joints in your hands could be an indication of arthritis. Most forms of arthritis are age-related and caused by wear and tear, but rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disorder that is not related to the use of the hand.
- Tendonitis. Inflammation of any of the tendons in the hand can be painful, but thumb tendonitis is one of the more common forms of the condition. It can be caused by any kind of strain on the thumb, from lifting a baby to knitting to moving boxes.
- Acute injury. The muscles in the hand can be torn or strained in a fall, and the bones can be broken or bruised in a crushing accident. After treatment, such as wrapping or casting, physical therapy is often recommended.
Often, it is difficult to pinpoint the cause of your hand or wrist pain. An osteopathic specialist can diagnose the condition and then develop an effective treatment plan.
How Physical Therapy Can Help With Hand Mobility
Hand therapy is a combination of treatment for the injury and recommendations for modifying activities until you have regained pain-free use of your hand. When you work with a physical therapist to treat a hand injury, the therapist might use the following:
- Massage and manipulation of joints and soft tissue. Strained muscles and tendons can be relaxed with therapeutic massage from a hand specialist.
- Stretching. Under the supervision of a physical therapist, stretching certain muscles in the injured hand can ease pain and prevent future injuries.
- Strengthening. Once pain and inflammation have been reduced, a therapist might work with you to strengthen the muscles in your hand to improve dexterity and prevent another injury
- Splinting and taping. After a session of PT, your therapist might immobilize your hand with tape or a splint to promote healing between appointments.
The physical therapy regimen that is right for you will depend on your specific injury and your goals for recovery. However, PT can be a very effective way to regain the pain-free use of your hand.
Discuss Physical Therapy for Hand Injuries With Our Team
If you are suffering with chronic pain in your hand or wrist, the skilled orthopedic surgeons at Northwest Extremity Specialists will develop a personalized treatment plan that may include physical therapy to help you. We will evaluate your condition to ensure that we are providing the best possible treatment options. Call us today at 503-245-2420 to make an appointment in the Portland-area office closest to you.