Author Archives: the American Society of Hand Therapists

Bones Fracture Hand Hand Therapy Radial Head Fracture

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Radial Head Fractures

The ability to move our elbows is required for using our arms during daily activities. We would not be able to reach our face to eat or our feet to put on shoes without our elbows.

Three bones make up the elbow: the long bone closer to your shoulder is the humerus, and the two forearm bones are the radius and ulna.  See the image above to get an idea of the location of these bones.

The radius and ulna are involved in bending and straightening the elbow as well as turning the palm up and down.  Radial head fractures affect all of these motions, especially the ability to rotate the forearm and hand.

Read More
Bones Broken Hand Hand Hand Therapy

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: How Do Broken Bones Heal?

 

Have you ever wondered how a broken bone heals? Broken bones, also called fractures, can heal two different ways.  The two types of bone healing are primary and secondary bone healing.  Secondary bone healing is more common than primary bone healing.

Secondary bone healing occurs when there is slight, controlled motion between the two ends of broken bone during the healing time.   For example, slight motion occurs when the broken bone is set in a cast.  Once the broken bone has been aligned back to its normal position and is placed in a cast, proper healing can begin.

In addition, secondary bone healing progresses through different stages.  The first stage occurs immediately after the fracture.  In this stage, there is swelling and bleeding around the broken bone.  The bleeding then becomes a mass around the break.  This mass is first known as a soft callus and eventually becomes a hard callus.  Once the soft callus becomes hard, the bone is stable.  After a cast is removed, the hard callus is gradually remodeled to normal bone.  This can take up to several years.

Read More
Hand Safety Hand Therapy Leash Safety

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Leash Safety

One of the benefits of pet ownership is the opportunity to get outside and exercise. A recent survey estimated that over 60 million households in the United States have at least one dog, so it is safe to say that a large number of us are hooking up a leash to walk our furry friends. Improper leash handling can increase risk of injury, particularly to our hands and wrists.

What are some of those injuries?

FOOSH

As we learned in a prior post, a FOOSH is a “fall on an outstretched hand.” Hand surgeons and hand therapists frequently see patients who have lost their footing after tripping on the leash, on their dog, or while walking on uneven terrain. This may also occur when your dog suddenly jerks the leash causing you to fall. One of the most common injuries resulting from a FOOSH is a wrist fracture, which could require a cast or perhaps even surgery.

Read More
Hand Hand Surgery Hand Therapy Surgery

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: What to Expect When You’re Expecting Surgery

Surgery generally falls into two categories, elective and emergency.  Outcomes from these two types can vary greatly.  Emergency surgery is usually done to preserve life or function and usually follows some sort of serious incident or injury.  Elective surgery means you may have some choice about the surgery as well as some time to discuss options with your doctor or medical team.

Post-operative expectations following surgery will depend greatly on the type of surgery you have, the amount of damage before and during surgery, your body’s response, and how well you take care of yourself afterward.

How can I prepare myself for my surgery?

The best way to prepare for surgery is to start as early as possible.  Most surgeries come with a set of precautions for after surgery, but what you do before surgery can also make a difference.

Read More
Gardening Hand Hand Safety Hand Therapy

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: The Joys of Gardening Without the Risk of Injury

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to not just feed the body but the soul” – Alfred Austin

Gardening is a meaningful activity for people across the lifespan. It can add beauty and nutrition as well as be an outlet for stress relief and a means of exercise. While it has many benefits, it can also be hard work for the muscles and joints of your hands and arms. Here are some tips and tricks that may help you reduce your risk for pain and increase your joy and productivity in the garden.

Tools

Good gardening tools can be especially helpful to reduce risk and pain associated with repetitive use injuries.

  • Tools with built up handles can reduce the grip strength required to perform activities and protect your joints. Wide handled or ergonomic tools may also be available on the internet or in local shops.
  • To build up the handles of your own tools, pipe insulation can be purchased at your local hardware store.
Read More
Finger Hand Jammed Finger Mallet Finger

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: What is a Mallet Finger and How is it Treated?

A mallet finger involves injury to the tendon that straightens the tip of the finger. This type of injury can occur when the tip of the finger is jammed, forcing it to bend quickly and forcefully. Banging the tip of the finger while doing everyday tasks or having a ball hit the end of the finger while playing sports are common ways this injury can occur. The forceful bending causes a tear in the tendon or a small piece of bone can break off along with the tendon.

This injury can cause pain and swelling. Along with the pain and swelling, the tip of the finger rests in a bent position and the person is not able to straighten it. There may be bruising after this type of injury as well.

A mallet finger injury is most often  treated with a small finger splint that keeps the tip of the finger straight. Keeping the tip of the finger straight for up to eight weeks allows the tendon to heal. The small splint can be provided by the doctor or can be custom made by a hand therapist.

Read More
Hand Hand Safety Hand Therapy Snowblower Safety

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Preventing Injuries During Snow Removal

The winter months can be a festive and fun time of year; however, they can also bring many hazards that can lead to hand, wrist, elbow or shoulder injuries. Snow shoveling and removal are strenuous and sometimes risky activities that are necessary in these snowy months, and should be addressed with some simple safety measures to protect yourself from potential injury.

Common safety steps to take when addressing snow removal include:

  • Warm up before tackling snow removal – Doing a short amount of light exercise to warm your body prior to shoveling snow can assist in reducing your risk of injury.
  • Wearing gloves with skid resistant material – One simple strategy to combat the snow is to be sure your gloves and/or mittens have a skid resistant material on the palm and fingers. This will allow you to have adequate grip on your shovel to prevent unnecessary slipping of your equipment.
Read More
Cold Hand Disease Hand Therapy Raynaud's Phenomenon

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Cold Weather Tips for Raynaud’s

Cold weather can bring misery to people with Raynaud’s. Frigid temperatures trigger an abnormal response of constriction (or narrowing) of the blood vessels in the fingers, toes, nose and/or ears interrupting blood flow. As a result, fingers turn white and blue when cold, then bright red when warming and are extremely painful.

If you have Raynaud’s, you are at greater risk for frostbite and may develop sores on the tips of your fingers. You can still enjoy winter activities. Most of the symptoms can be managed with prevention and some lifestyle changes. Here are a few suggestions:

Wear gloves and mittens. Mittens tend to keep hands warmer than fingered gloves. Fingerless gloves with mitten caps are a great option and can also be used indoors as well.

Layer your clothing. Keep your body warm with layers. The Raynaud’s response occurs when the body becomes cold, not just your hands and feet. Wristies® and Limbkeepers® are two products that help with layering.

Read More
1 2 3 5