The structure of your hand is complex and delicate. Your hand has 27 bones, more than 120 ligaments, 29 joints, 48 nerves and 17 muscles. That doesn’t count the muscles of the forearm that control the fingers and the tendons attached to them.
Hand and Wrist Pain
You rely on your hands constantly to perform everyday tasks. You open a door, hold a pencil, type on a computer, pick up your child. But when you have pain, these and other activities can be difficult to perform.
Your hand allows you to move in strong, precise and flexible ways. But there are many reasons why hand pain may occur, ranging from accidents to chronic conditions. The pain can prevent you from doing daily tasks as well as keep you up at night.
Most hand and wrist injuries occur as a result of highly repetitive movements, an accident or a fall. Here are some of the most common causes.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The bones that make up your wrist and the base of your hand are known as the carpal bones. The carpal tunnel is the narrow opening between these bones. This space is narrow and confined, and the median nerve passes through it to provide sensory and motor functions to the three middle fingers and the thumb. When the opening becomes narrowed, the median nerve gets compressed, causing pain in your hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause trouble gripping objects and causing your fingers to feel swollen, numb, burning, and tingling (like “pins and needles”).
Hand and Finger Fractures
Falling onto an outstretched arm is one of the ways to fracture a hand or wrist. Impact sports and auto accidents can also lead to a fracture. Many times a fracture is not obvious – you may have swelling and pain in the area, but the bone is not visibly deformed. If you suspect a fracture, seek medical help for an X-ray and a proper diagnosis.
Trigger finger occurs when the tendon in your finger develops a nodule or thickened area that keeps your joint from sliding freely through the tendon sheath. Your finger will “lock” at a certain point when you try to straighten it.
Every joint in your body is susceptible to arthritis, including your hand. Osteoarthritis occurs when the smooth layer of cartilage in a joint begins to wear out, leaving the bones to grate against each other and causing pain. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, osteoarthritis usually develops in the base of the thumb, in the joint closest to the fingertip or in a finger’s middle joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that attacks the joints, often manifesting itself in the hands.
De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
This is a condition similar to trigger finger because it makes it difficult for the tendon at the base of your thumb to slide through its tendon sheath. It is unique in that it only affects the thumb, and it is the tendon sheath that is inflamed, not the tendon itself. De Quiervain’s tenosynovitis can make it painful and difficult for your wrist and hand to work with your thumb to accomplish even the simplest of tasks.
When you fall and catch yourself on the ground with your hands – if you didn’t break anything – then you probably sprained your wrist. Ligaments are the tough, thick tissues that connect each bone to the one next to it. A sprain is an injury to a ligament.
How Can Therapy Help With Hand and Wrist Pain?
While a cast and rest may be the best treatment option for a fracture, therapy can help with hand and wrist pain. The goal of a physical therapy program is to reduce pain, increase range of motion, improve flexibility, strengthen the muscles that support the joint and keep you mobile.
A certified occupational hand therapist can help with some of the more severe hand and wrist conditions. They are the experts when it comes to developing individual programs to train (or retrain) your hand to be able to function normally again. A hand therapist can manufacture a custom splint that targets a specific area that needs attention, thus assuring the best possible outcomes.
Are you experiencing hand and wrist pain? Call our experts at Progressive Physical Therapy toll-free at (877) 342-2669 to schedule a comprehensive evaluation. Our commitment to you is to help you on your road towards recovery and ridding yourself from the pain in your hand and wrist.