Will Hand Therapy Help You?
March 6th, 2020
The demand for occupational therapists, including hand therapists, is on the rise. In fact, job growth is expected to increase by 27% between 2014 and 2024. As more people experience hand pain and range of motion issues, they’re electing to visit a specialist.
If you’re experiencing pain in your hand or wrist, you could benefit from hand therapy, too.
Not convinced? Keep reading to learn the top reasons and benefits of visiting a hand therapist. Hand occupational therapy could make all the difference in your quality of life.
Keep reading to learn more!
What Is Hand Therapy?
Hand therapy is a form of rehabilitation that’s performed by an occupational therapist. Many hand therapists use manual therapy and soft tissue techniques to relieve a patient’s ongoing pain.
Hand therapy will treat the strength and range of motion of your upper extremities, including your:
Patients who choose to get hand therapy often have an injury or chronic condition. The therapeutic assistance can help with:
• Preventative care
• Post-operational rehabilitation
• Non-operative therapy
Depending on the type and severity of your injury, a hand therapist might also suggest:
• Custom splinting
• Retraining techniques
• Hand exercises
These techniques can help increase your overall comfort. Over time, you’ll regain the full function of your hand.
The purpose of hand therapy is to maximize the effectiveness and functionality of your hand. In order to help, a hand therapist might also develop ways to help you complete daily tasks despite limited hand abilities.
How Can a Hand Therapist Help?
Hand therapy involves a combination of different rehabilitation treatments. First, your certified hand therapist (CHT) will evaluate your condition. They might also consult with your physician or surgeon if needed.
Then, they’ll develop a treatment program that will best benefit your condition.
A few standard therapy types include:
• Injury avoidance education
• Range of motion activities
• Electrical stimulation
• Occupational conditioning
• Scar management
• Pain management
• Soft tissue procedures
• Joint movement
• Nerve desensitization
• Strength exercises
• Dexterity training
• Hot or cold packs
• Custom orthotic creation
The type of therapies you’ll utilize depends on your current condition.
Injuries and Illnesses
Musculoskeletal hand problems are common in people ages 50 and older. 47% have hand problems and 31% experience hand pain. Both problems impact a person’s overall quality of life.
Your hand is made of 27 bones. The muscles and joints within your hand allow for dexterous movements. However, these components are all vulnerable to injury.
Your hand pain could stem from:
• Sprains or fractures
• Repetitive motion injuries
• Nerve damage
• A chronic health condition
Many of the conditions that cause hand pain are treatable.
In order to develop a customized hand therapy treatment for you, your therapist will consider your condition. Then, they’ll help you reclaim your mobility and functionality. Here are a few conditions hand therapy can help improve.
Arthritis is inflammation in one or more joints. This condition is the leading cause of hand pain. There are actually over 100 different types of arthritis, though the most common include rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
• Dull or burning pain
• Pain after using your hand
• Pain or stiffness of the joints in the morning
• Grinding, grating, or loosening sensations
• Small cysts at the end of your fingers
This condition usually affects older patients. For example, osteoarthritis is usually caused by wear and tear over the years. As your articular cartilage decreases, you’ll start to experience pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause pain and stiffness, usually beginning with the hands and feet.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Your carpal tunnel connects ligament and bone at the base of your hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when your median nerve is squeezed by a narrowing carpal tunnel.
The narrowing is caused by tendon irritation, inflammation, or swelling.
• The feeling your fingers are swollen
• Burning, tingling, or itching in the palm
• Pain during the night
• Pain and stiffness in the morning
• Decreased grip strength
You might also have trouble grasping small objects.
De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
This condition affects the tendons surrounding your thumb. Inflammation puts pressure on your nerves, causing pain and numbness.
• Pain around the thumb-side of the wrist
• Trouble grasping items
You might also experience a sticking or popping feeling when you move your thumb.
Hand therapy can benefit a number of other conditions, including:
• Cubital tunnel syndrome
• Ganglion cysts
• Tennis elbow
• General hand pain
• Repetitive motion disorder
• Trigger finger
• Golfer’s elbow
• Dupuytren’s contracture
• Sprains, dislocations, fractures
• Burns and wounds
• Fine motor skill deficiencies
If you’re experiencing the effects of one of these conditions, consider visiting a certified hand therapist for treatment.
The Benefits of Hand Therapy
Hand therapy is a holistic treatment. As a result, hand occupational therapy is an alternative to many invasive treatment methods, including surgery.
Hand therapy is a safer approach to treating the root cause of your pain. By visiting a hand therapist, you can avoid using prescription drugs. Many drugs come with a list of harmful side effects.
Hand therapy is also a preventative treatment method. While you may need to visit your hand therapist more than once, treatment now will help you avoid bigger problems in the future.
Hands-on rehabilitation also provides pain management for both acute and chronic pain.
This form of therapy is also ideal for conditioning before patients return to work or begin playing sports. Your hand therapist might suggest home exercises to improve your range of motion. These exercises can also strengthen your hand and provide better dexterity.
One of the main benefits of hand therapy is the feeling of restored function.
Your hands and arms are vital for completing the smallest tasks each day. By strengthening your hand and wrist function, you can improve your mobility and overall quality of life. This can help install confidence in any patient receiving treatment.
Get a Helping Hand: How Hand Therapy Can Benefit Your Life
Don’t live life without full function over your hand and wrist. Instead, consider scheduling a hand therapy appointment today. With treatment, you can restore function to your hand and improve your quality of life!
Need a helping hand? Contact us today to begin receiving the treatment you need.