Joint pain from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are often flared up during colder weather. Arthritis in the hand commonly occurs at the thumb carpometacarpal joint, fingertips or known as the distal interphalangeal joint (DIPJ) and metacarpal joint. Arthritis can also occur at the wrist. Here we take a look at different ways of managing arthritis and how a hand therapist can help.Read more
Training for rowing or exercising on a rowing machine can cause pain in the forearm and wrist.
This can be due to poor technique or repetitive motions straining the forearm and wrist muscles. It can lead to multiple types of overuse injuries such as lateral epicondylitis or intersection syndrome.
There are many causes of finger pain. The above example sounds like a classic case of trigger finger but there are many issues which may cause pain or discomfort in the fingers and will require treatment from your hand therapist.
QUESTION: A 28 year old female fell over at soccer and had another player accidentally step on her hand. Her hand is now swollen and bruised, however, she has full range of movement of her fingers and wrist.
What is it?
A broken hand is when a break/fracture occurs to one of the bones in your hand. The hand has a number of bones which support its framework. Many people believe that a fracture and a break are different, but they are actually the same thing.
Any forced applied in excess to the bone can break it. This can occur from a fall, punching a wall, or having someone or something else hit it.
Usually with fractures in the hand, they can present with lots of swelling (also known as oedema), pain, bruising and potentially a loss of movement or deformity.
However, some people with a broken hand can still move their fingers and wrist without issue and don’t necessarily present with deformity.
Some fractures are simple, although some others may be displace or have multiple fragments on x-ray.
A medical evaluation including x-ray is required for diagnosis. This will help your doctor and hand therapist
determine what treatment is required or if referral to a hand surgeon is required.
Here at Hand Therapy Group, we can fabricate customised thermoplastic hand splints to accommodate for all fractures in the hand with any level or injury (pre or post-op).
We ensure that only the joints that need to be immobilised are immobilised and the rest are available for gentle range of movement and use.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us here and we’ll be happy to help!
The Hand Therapy Group are recognised leaders in therapy for the hand and upper limb. Lead by Director, Dr Anne Wajon, PhD, we employ highly qualified and experienced hand therapists (physiotherapists and occupational therapists) who offer expert assessment, diagnosis and treatment for people with hand and upper limb pain or dysfunction. You can follow Dr Wajon on Twitter!
QUESTION: A 51 year old female office worker tripped over at home and landed on her hand, sustaining a broken wrist. It is swollen and painful. What should she do?
What Is a Broken Wrist?
A Distal Radius Fracture is a fracture of the end of the radius near the wrist, and is commonly referred to as a broken wrist. It mainly occurs when you fall on an outstretched hand.
Broken Wrist Treatment
An undisplaced or mildly displaced fracture can be managed by a hand therapist. Different immobilisation options are available including a waterproof fibreglass cast, EXOS brace and thermoplastic splint.
Your therapist will determine the appropriate for of immobilisation for you depending on the severity of the fracture, amount of swelling and whether the fracture is being managed non-operatively or after surgery. You will also be provided with:
- Education about appropriate care of your swollen hand
- Provision of a splint suited to your needs
- Exercises to non-involved joints
- Graded strengthening and proprioceptive exercises when appropriate
Surgical review may be required if there is multiple fragments or any displacement. Your hand therapist will be happy to discuss with you and your GP whether referral to a hand surgeon is appropriate.
QUESTION: A 58 year-old right hand dominant admin officer complains of pain at the base of her thumb when opening jars, turning keys, writing and knitting. She is worried that she is developing arthritis, and remembers how debilitated her mother was with arthritis in her hands. Is there a role for hand therapy?
What is it?
Osteoarthritis at the base of the thumb is a degenerative condition, which may be associated with pain, stiffness, weakness and increasing deformity. Symptoms can be aggravated by activities requiring strong pinch or sustained gripping activities. The thumb may look swollen and be tender to touch, and ache after prolonged activities. Particular aggravating activities include opening jars, turning keys, writing, pinching pegs or leaning on an extended wrist.
An X-Ray may be helpful to determine the degree of degenerative change, although symptoms don’t necessarily correlate with severity of X-ray change.
Most people with arthritis at the base of the thumb will respond well to a custom made splint, and instruction in various self-help strategies with an appropriate exercise program. Your hand therapist will provide you with:
- Education about appropriate care of your painful thumb
- Appropriate exercises to improve your movement, control, and ability to perform activities of daily living
- A supportive splint to rest the thumb, to allow you to perform activity without pain. The splint may be made from a soft neoprene material or custom made out of thermoplastic materials
- Neuromuscular and graded strengthening exercises when appropriate
- Neural glides
Surgical review may be required depending on your response to conservative treatments. Your therapist will be happy to discuss with you and your GP whether referral to a hand surgeon is appropriate.