Hand therapy is the treatment of medical conditions related to the upper extremities, which includes your arms, hands, and fingers. At North 49 Physical Therapy in Saskatoon, SK, we can evaluate and treat your hand problems with non-surgical physiotherapy that can decrease your pain and increase your ability to move.
What Is Hand Therapy?
Hand therapy is the treatment of medical problems related to the arms, hands, and fingers. Many health care providers can provide treatment to the upper extremities, but a certified hand therapist has taken specialized training and credentialing exams. They therefore know in depth the mechanics of the hand and arms and are specifically trained to help with preventative care, non-surgical treatments, increased mobility, and pain management in these areas.
You may want to visit a hand therapist in Saskatoon if you are experiencing problems with your hands or arms and are interested in exploring non-surgical treatments.
Conditions Treated with Hand Therapy
Arthritis is caused by inflammation in your joints and can lead to pain, especially in the wrist and fingers.
Elbow or Wrist Fractures
Broken elbows and wrists are painful conditions that can be difficult to treat because of their location.
Ulnar Sided Wrist Pain
This is pain that stems from the side of the wrist near the pinkie finger. It is usually caused by an injury to the TFCC.
Tennis elbow is inflammation that occurs in the tendons of the elbow. It is usually caused by repetitive arm movement and not actually tennis.
If one of your fingers snaps into a bent position and cannot be unbent, you may have a trigger finger or stenosing tenosynovitis. This is usually caused by repetitive motions of the finger.
These are joints in the fingers and they can become inflamed and painful. The DIP joints are located at the end of the fingers, and the PIP joints are located in the middle of the fingers. When these joints are inflamed, moving them can be painful and limited.
Injuries and accidents can lead to sprains on the hands, arms, elbows, or shoulders. This happens when an excessive force causes ligaments and/or the joint capsule to tear.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome, also called median nerve compression, is nerve pressure that can cause weakness in your hand. You might also feel numbness or a tingling sensation in the thumb, index, long and ring finger.
Certain Chronic Conditions
Some chronic conditions can cause pain or problems in the arms and hands. These include diabetes, certain neurological conditions, and some autoimmune diseases.
Lack of Movement After Surgery
Surgeries can often cause a need for physiotherapy to help you learn to properly use your limbs and joints after they have been replaced or repaired.
Types of Treatment with Hand Therapy
The hand therapist will suggest exercises that are specifically customized for your injury or condition. These will often include movements for strengthening muscles and tendons as well as increasing the range of motion in joints.
This is a hands-on therapy where the therapist physically mobilizes the part of the body that needs treatment (i.e. joint, tendons). It may include manual stretching or massage.
Desensitization in hand therapy involves applying pressure or a stimulus to the affected area in order for the body to get used to and adapt to the stimulus. It is typically used as a way of managing pain.
The therapist may use heat to ease the pain in the joints of other parts of the arms and hand. Heat may also allow the body to move more fluidly. Heat can be applied through electrical means, hot water, or even through ultrasound.
Modifications to Equipment
In some cases, the therapist may suggest modifications to equipment that will make them more ergonomically useful to the patient. Examples of this might be a raised keyboard or a specially positioned chair. These changes can take the pressure off the part of the body needing treatment and allow the condition to ease.
The therapist may also suggest adaptive techniques the patient can use to ease pain or pressure. This can include using different muscles to perform everyday tasks or using tools that allow the patient to avoid bending or twisting.
The therapist may also teach the patient special techniques that are designed to protect the joint from damage or injury. The patient may be taught to use the joint differently or use the body differently in order to remove pressure or contact on the area that is hurting. Braces may also be used to protect the joint.
The therapist may come up with a pain management plan for the patient. This could include exercises and tools for relieving pain and possibly the use of pain medication as well as techniques that include applying heat or cold to the affected area. This may also involve massage or other pain-reducing techniques.
Management of Wounds
When there are wounds in the hands or arm that need to be healed, a hand therapist can help create a plan for fast and efficient healing. This may include antibiotics and measures that should be taken to reduce the risk of infection. It may also include instructions on keeping the wound clean and bandaged. If heat or cold should be applied to aid in healing, the therapist will help with this as well.
Benefits of Visiting a Certified Hand Therapist
A certified hand therapist is either a physiotherapist or occupational therapist who has the background and specialized training to give you an accurate diagnosis of what is happening with your upper extremities. Sometimes, the symptoms you are experiencing are caused by issues that a trained therapist will be able to diagnose. Seeing someone who specializes in this area is helpful in knowing exactly what you are dealing with. A hand therapist may know the techniques and activities that can allow you to avoid having to go through surgery. Another benefit is reduction in pain and discomfort.
If you are having problems related to your upper extremities from the shoulder to the fingertips, a hand therapist may be able to help. Contact North 49 Physical Therapy in Saskatoon, SK to schedule an evaluation with Cathy our certified hand therapist, so you can get back to doing the things you love.