Category : Hand Therapy

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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Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Elbow Hand Hand Therapy

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist on Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Image of patient after injury using elbow stabilizer ** Note: Soft Focus at 100%, best at smaller sizes

Cubital tunnel syndrome: Hand numbness and tingling is not always carpal tunnel syndrome.

I have a funny tingling in my small and ring fingers while holding my cell phone to my ear or while holding a book when reading in bed. Why?

That “funny” sensation could be compression of the ulnar nerve at the elbow. The path of the ulnar nerve runs just behind the boney part on the inside of the elbow. The nerve is close to the skin and runs through a boney ridge without any substantial padding. The nerve must slide and stretch through this cubital tunnel with elbow movement.

Wait a minute! What does the nerve at my elbow have to do with the funny sensations in my hand?

Good question! The job of the ulnar nerve is to facilitate communication from your brain to your hand. This communication operates the muscles that help you perform coordinated movements with your fingers. Another job of the ulnar nerve is to take information about sensation at the ring and small fingers back to the brain. If the nerve is compressed or irritated, it can’t do its job. This condition leads to difficulty manipulating objects with your hand, feelings of weakness and sensations of tingling, numbness, burning or tightness in your fingers.

That doesn’t sound good. What can I do?

There is good news. There are some things you can try that might calm the nerve. Nerves do not like to be crowded. The ulnar nerve becomes crowded at the elbow with direct pressure over its path or when the elbow is held in a bent position for an extended period of time.

Here are a few tips:

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Hand Hand Therapy Shoulder

7 stretches for a frozen shoulder

Check out the Hand Society’s latest re-tweet from Harvard Health about getting rid of a frozen shoulder. Learn more about shoulder pain at www.handcare.org.

 

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Hand Hand Therapy Scar Treatment

How to treat a scar

Scar Stages (4)

 

Scars are normal after an injury or surgery.  It is how the body heals. Your hand surgeon or hand therapist may recommend a variety of scar treatments after your injury is healed, cut is healed, or stitches are removed. Here are some treatments that may help the look and feel of your scar:

  • Massage: Gently massaging your scar can help reduce sensitivity and make it more smooth and movable.
  • Rubbing with textures: Exposing your scar to different textures can also help reduce its sensitivity, making it more used to the normal forces of daily life. Desensitizing a scar can take up to four months. You should begin as soon as you are done healing.
  • Exercise: An early exercise program can prevent stiffness of the joints near your scar.
  • Silicone gel: This gel can be placed on your scar in the form of gel or sheets, often at night. Wrapping the scar can reduce swelling and tension.
  • Injections or surgery: For special scar problems such as burns, an injection or surgery may be recommended by your surgeon.

Some scars take up to a year to complete the healing process, which is complete when the scar is light in color, smooth, and no longer sensitive to touch. During the healing process, be sure to protect your scar from the sun. Learn more about scar treatment at www.handcare.org.

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