Daily function depends on the use of the hand, wrist and elbow. Injuries such as sprains, lacerations and fractures as well as conditions such as arthritis, nerve compression syndromes and soft tissue inflammation affecting these areas can drastically limit normal activity.
Whether your doctor prescribes therapy following surgery or removal of a cast, or you are just concerned about pain or stiffness which is limiting your use of your arms or hands, you can find help from hand therapy at ReQuest Physical Therapy in Gainesville, FL.
What is a hand therapist?
A hand therapist is a nationally registered occupational or physical therapist who, through advanced continuing education, clinical experience and integration of anatomy, physiology and kinesiology, has become proficient in treatment of pathological upper extremity conditions resulting from trauma, disease or acquired deformity. Our CHT (certified hand therapist) is an occupational therapist who earned her certification in 1993. She has many years of experience making custom braces as part of some treatment plans, as well as providing therapy, education and encouragement for patients many of whom have anxiety about their functional deficits.Contact ReQuest Physical Therapy for relief !
What is the cause of my upper extremity problem?
Listed below are a few of the most common conditions treated by our hand therapist
Osteo arthritis is a very common condition that affects almost everyone to a greater or lesser degree as they age. Generally, It results from loss of cartilage in the joint which then allows bone to rub against bone – this causes inflammation which is perceived by you as pain. In the upper extremity, arthritis at the base of the thumb, near the wrist, is especially common. There are many conservative management techniques which can help reduce the inflammation and thereby, the pain. Arthritis is not a common elbow problem. Arthritis in the wrist often results from an old injury, such as a sprain. Auto immune arthritis, such as rheumatoid, can also cause pain and deformity in the wrist and hand – splinting and joint protection can often help decrease pain and the deformity which this type of arthritis can cause.
Although often considered minor injuries, sprains, especially in the finger joints, can cause life long limitations. A sprain involves stretching of a ligament. Ligaments hold bone to bone – they provide stability in the joints. It takes significant force to cause a sprain – the joint has to be forced into a position that is either not normal or is past normal. It is highly unlikely that you could have a sprain without knowing it right at the time it happened. In fingers the injury is often described as a “jamming of the finger.” If the injury causes an inability to straighten the tip joint of the digit or the middle joint of a finger it may need to be splinted quickly in order to avoid a permanent problem. A serious sprain actually takes longer to heal than a fracture (sprain 10-12 weeks, fracture 6 weeks), so patience is required.
Nerve Compression Syndromes
The most commonly known upper extremity nerve compression syndrome is carpal tunnel syndrome. This results when there is compression on the median nerve where it runs through the wrist. Less commonly known is cubital tunnel syndrome which results from compression of the ulnar nerve at the back of the elbow (“funny bone”). The most common first symptom of these is nighttime awakening with numbness/tingling in the hand. With carpal tunnel the thumb, index, middle and the radial (thumb) side of the ring finger are affected. In cubital tunnel it is the ulnar (small finger side) side of the ring finger and the small finger. Once again, conservative management offered at ReQuest Physical Therapy in Gainesville, FL can help decrease symptoms and avoid progression of the problem.
Probably the most commonly known UE tendonitises are lateral (tennis elbow) epicondylitis and medial (golfers elbow) epicondylitis. Another, less known but common, tendonitis is DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis. This affects the area of the wrist just below the thumb. Related to tendonitis is trigger finger/thumb. In this condition, the digit tends to “lock down” in flexion and then “pops” when it is straightened. All of these respond to conservative management but delayed treatment can make them much tougher to resolve
If you believe you could benefit from occupational therapy, don’t hesitate to Contact Us or Request an Appointment today. ReQuest Physical Therapy is ready to get you started on the path toward living a more enjoyable, comfortable and functional life!