May 13

COMMON HAND AND WRIST CONDITIONS AND HOW PHYSIOTHERAPY CAN HELP YOU GET A GRIP

Wrist-Pain-620x330.114920We use our hands and wrists to perform all the activities in our daily life. They allow us to manipulate objects so that we can perform essential and non-essential tasks such as personal hygiene, tool work, sports and good ole computer games.

The wrist is a joint where the radius and the ulna meet the 8 carpal bones of the wrist. The carpal bones allow for tiny movements of the wrist and these meet the 5 metatarsal bones of the palm, from which the fingers and thumb attach to. Ligaments connect the small bones of the arm, wrist and hand to provide stability to the joints.
One muscle group bends the fingers and wrist and the other group straightens them. The small muscles within the hand assists with finger and thumb movements. The median nerve travels through a tunnel within the wrist called the carpal tunnel. The muscle tendons of the wrist and finger flexors also run through this tunnel.

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What Causes Hand and Wrist Pain?
There are many causes of hand and wrist pain including:
• Wrist Sprain
• Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
• Arthritis-osteoarthritis and rheumatoid

Wrist Sprain
A wrist sprain happens when the ligaments of the wrist are overstretched. This typically happens during a fall on an outstretched arm or moving the wrist at the end range of its normal mobility. The symptoms of this injury include: pain especially with wrist movements, tenderness, and swelling, bruising and a feeling of popping or tearing inside the wrist during and after the fall.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This injury is the compression of the median nerve as it travels through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. It commonly occurs as a result of repetitive flexion of the wrist and fingers, which in turn causes the tendons in the area to swell. CTS can also be caused by pregnancy because retained fluid can compress the nerve. There is pain in the wrist and palm, as well as tingling and numbness in the middle 3 digits. The pain is often worse at night and with flexion activities.

ei_2608.115244Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage on the ends of the bones break down over time. The joints become stiff and it becomes difficult for someone to move their wrist. This kind of arthritis is uncommon and it normally occurs in people who have injured the wrist in the past. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and it can involve the joint between the ulna and radius. The chronic inflammation can erode the ulna and can damage the tendons that straighten the fingers. The wrist can then become deformed into a bent wrist or gnarled fingers if the inflammation is not treated

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What can you do if you have hand or wrist pain?
At Balance Physiotherapy, your physiotherapist will determine the cause your symptoms and will set up your treatment that may include:

• Modalities for pain/swelling relief including low level laser therapy, TENS, ultrasound, dry needling and acupuncture
• Manual therapy, including manipulations, to improve the movement of the joints in your wrist and hand.
• Massage to promote soft tissue healing and break up scar tissue.
• Strengthening and stretching exercises
• Recommendations to wear a brace in the injured area.

– Erika Turner, PT