Category : Hand Therapy

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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Elbow Hand Hand Therapy Lateral Epicondylitis Tennis Elbow

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist on Tennis Elbow

a man holds his painful, aching elbow ** Note: Shallow depth of field

I have pain on the outside of my elbow when reaching for objects with my elbow extended. The pain increases if the object weighs more than a few pounds, such as a gallon of milk, a coffee pot or the laundry detergent. How did I get this pain?

The condition you are describing may be lateral epicondylitis, more commonly known as “tennis elbow.” The irony is that this overuse condition often occurs in non-tennis players from improper lifting and carrying of objects, or from performing activities that are highly repetitive in nature. The activities translate force to the outside of the elbow, causing inflammation and micro-tears in the tendon (see diagram below).

TennisElbow_Fig1
There are times when my elbow is really painful. Is there a treatment for healing the micro-tears?

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Arthritis Hand Hand Therapy Paraffin Wax

9 steps to treating your hands with paraffin wax

Spa salon. Manicure. Paraffin hand bath. Studio photo set.

Paraffin wax can provide relief from arthritis pain, sore joints or sore muscles. It is a type of wax that is used for candles and can be used in your own home. A paraffin wax unit can be purchased for a low cost or even rented. Learn how to safely use one of these units for your hands by following these 9 steps:

1. Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them.

2. Rub lotion onto your hands: Hand lotion allows the wax to be removed easily after treatment.

3. Dip your hand into the wax (Figure 1 above): Your fingertips should go in first. Keep your fingers separated and submerse your hand all the way past the wrist if desired.

4. Remove your hand after it has been coated with wax.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4: Dip your hand 6-8 times, waiting a few seconds between each dip. This allows layers of wax to form over your hand.

6. Immediately cover your hand with a plastic bag and wrap with a hand towel (Figure 2 below): Wait 10-15 minutes. This will create moist, deep heat for your hand.

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Hand Hand Therapy Joints Thumb Thumb Pain

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Living with(out) thumb pain

Closeup on young housewife opening jar of pickled cucumbers

I have pain in the palm of my hand at the base of my thumb. It hurts more when I try to open jars, and I frequently have to ask someone for help. Is there anything I can do to make this less painful?

Hand therapists discuss something called joint protection, which is all about – you guessed it – protecting your joints! Thumb pain can occur when there is joint inflammation and swelling. With the use of the right tools, you can perform the same tasks while minimizing or eliminating the pain. Tools to help with opening jars come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

For jars that have a vacuum seal (pasta sauces or jam jars), a device called a jar popper/jar key can help break the seal without stressing your thumb. This works similar to a church key for removing bottle tops. It catches the side of the lid and you use the leverage of the tool to release the vacuum. Once that is accomplished, opening the lid is much easier – and less painful!

OA Tool leverage 1  OA Tool leverage 2

That’s interesting. Does it work for pill bottles, too?

Good question! Because pill bottles don’t have a vacuum, it does not work for them; however, there is another option to help you out.

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