Category : Hand Therapy

Hand Hand Therapy Joints

5 activities that hurt your joints

Hand Deformed From Rheumatoid Arthritis. Studio shot. Pain condition. In red

Certified hand therapist Michelle McMurray, MOT, OTR/L, CHT discusses how you can save your joints while performing daily activities.


Sometimes it is our small, every day activities in our daily routines that we overlook.  As we get busy with our daily lives, sometimes we are not aware of the little things that we do that can ultimately add up to big problems.  We hear about many things that we can do to protect our joints, but in the business of daily lives we forget about ourselves…and our joints.

Here are some examples of some basic tasks we do all the time that can eventually lead to bigger problems:

1. Cleaning

When scrubbing carpet to remove a stain, it is very common that we pinch the cloth and apply pressure.  A big problem that can occur if you happen to quickly catch the end of your finger is a mallet finger.  This is an injury that leaves a droop at the end of the finger. The rehab process can be long and tedious. The easiest way to avoid this is to grip the rag with a fist or use a brush with a handle.

2. Writing

With technology, we do not write as much as we did in the past.  In that case, we are sometimes hurried when doing this activity, which may lead to increased pressure and gripping on the writing utensil.  One thing that can help to decrease the pressure on the thumb is increasing the diameter of the pen/pencil.

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Elbow Hand Hand Therapy Wrist

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist on Desk Posture

a woman sitting at a desk and has pain in the back. symbol photo for proper posture at work in the office.

I sit at a desk most of the workday, keyboarding. My wrists and elbows are always aching. Is there anything I can do?

If you spend most of your day at a desk, your work station should be evaluated and adjusted to ensure proper positioning and desk posture. Your work station should be set up specifically for you. There are many symptoms that may occur from sitting at a poorly designed work station. These symptoms include fatigue or soreness of wrists, elbows, neck, scapular region and lower back. Eventually, if these signs aren’t addressed, you may start to experience pain or numbness and tingling in these areas. If your work station is shared, it should be adjustable to fit the needs of all who use that workstation.

What should my work station look like?

Proper workstation assessment should include looking at the height of your chair, the type of keyboard and mouse you’re using, and position of your monitor. Proper height of your chair should allow ankles, knees, hips and elbows to rest at 90 degrees.

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Hand Hand Therapy Wrist Fracture

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist on FOOSH – Hoverboards & Beyond

Close up of hoverboard from front top view with one of the riders feet on top and the other on wooden floor

My neighbor recently had a FOOSH walking on an icy sidewalk, and when she told me she broke her wrist, I was curious about the acronym. Exactly what does a FOOSH mean, and what type of injury occurred?

A FOOSH means a “fall on the outstretched hand,” and the most common injury is a distal radius fracture. This type of fracture involves the end of one of the two long bones in the forearm (see photo). These injuries are more common in females in old age (over 65) due to the higher incidence of osteoporosis.FOOSH 1

The advent of the hoverboard has rapidly increased the incidence of wrist fractures in a young person. In fact, hoverboard injuries have increased so rapidly, that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a warning to users about fall risks. Please watch this brief video to learn more about these injuries and to be aware of precautions if you’re planning to attempt use of these products.

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Hand Hand Therapy Pain

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist on Central Sensitization: Why do I still have pain?

Closeup portrait young man having acute bad joint pain in his hands writer's cramp massaging them sitting in chair isolated outdoors background

Why do I have pain?

Pain, in its most basic form, is a protective response the body uses to survive. Responses and reactions to pain can vary from person to person. Our brain interprets the signals from our body as either non harmful or harmful (pain). Pain is not always an indicator of damage. For example, recall how painful a paper cut is!

Why has my pain lasted so long?

While pain can be a good, protective response in the body, sometimes our pain experience can last longer or be more intense than a typical pain response to an injury or surgery.

Typically, when we get hurt, say a cut to the finger, our body interprets this as a ‘flight or fight’ response. This response includes increased blood flow, pain, swelling and redness to the area temporarily until the threat passes. This is controlled by something called the sympathetic nervous system. Once the threat passes, the body calms down. As it returns to a normal state, the pain and swelling also decrease.

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Hand Hand Surgeon Hand Therapy

What is a hand therapist?

What is a Hand Therapist FINAL FINAL

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Finger Hand Hand Therapy Mallet Finger

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Mallet Finger

Mallet_Fig1A

What is happening to my fingertip? It doesn’t go straight anymore.

If you can’t extend the tip of your finger, you may have what is called a mallet finger. This happens when the end of the tendon that lifts your fingertip becomes separated from the fingertip. There are a few different ways this can happen.

Do I need to do anything about this? Will it heal on its own?

If you have a mallet finger, it needs to be treated; it will not heal on its own. You should consult with your doctor, and possibly a hand surgeon.

A hand surgeon? That sounds serious!

It may be. Sometimes the tendon comes off the fingertip with a portion of the bone – sometimes it only comes partially off. Having a specialist assess it and direct you will ensure you have a good outcome.

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Finger Hand Hand Therapy Trigger Finger

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Trigger Finger

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I noticed that after making a fist, when I try to straighten one of my fingers, it catches and becomes very painful. Sometimes it is necessary to take my other hand to force the finger back into a straight position.

The condition you are describing may be trigger finger (or trigger thumb), and is frequently caused by overuse. Some examples of activities that might initiate this condition are power washing a deck for several hours, using a rivet gun repetitively, leash training a dog or opening window latches that have a lot of resistance.

Why is there a hard nodule present in my palm? It’s tender to touch!

The nodule is actually extreme thickening of the tendon, and each time your tendon “triggers,” there is an inflammatory response that occurs (see diagrams below). Look at the swollen tendon in the first diagram, then take a look at the pulley in the second diagram. You will see that at some point, the nodule becomes so inflamed the tendon can’t glide underneath the pulley — that’s why it “triggers.”

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Finger Hand Hand Safety Hand Therapy

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Pumpkin Carving Tools

pile of small cute pumpkins at pumpkin patch

Are pumpkin-carving tools really worth buying? 

Yes, there has been real research on this topic. Dr. Alexander Marcus and his research group in Syracuse, N.Y. tested the performance of two different pumpkin carving tools against a serrated and a plain kitchen knife*. They tested the pressure it takes to cut or puncture a pumpkin with each of the knives and the pumpkin-carving tools. They then used the same pressure against the fingers of cadavers. The pumpkin-carving tools proved to be far superior and safer. The plain kitchen knife caused more injuries than the serrated kitchen knife. Both kitchen knives cut through both the tendons of the finger and, in some cases, a nerve as well. Kitchen knives require more force to puncture a pumpkin, meaning more opportunity for injury.

You can feel confident that investing in pumpkin-carving gadgets is a good idea. If you are interested in seeing the article along with pictures of the test, please be advised that there is a photo of a cadaver hand: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743504000374.

Here are some safe and creative ways to decorate your pumpkin this year:

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