Did we ever realise how important our hands are until we face a problem/issue in our day-to-day activities? Simple activities like holding objects, handshaking, lifting things become difficult if we face hand-related issues like pain, stiffness, injury, or swelling. Hand therapy is required to overcome and manage the issue effectively.
So, what is Hand Therapy?
Hand Therapy is a classified and specialist stream of Occupational Therapy (OT) and Physiotherapy that encompasses diagnosing and treating conditions of the upper limb and hand.
Hand Therapy interventions and treatment procedures are discussed in the article. Several medical problems are attributed to a reduction in daily activities due to stiffness, pain, and swelling in the hand. This problem may arise due to multiple factors and the common interventions are outlined below:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
CTS is one of the common issues related to the upper limb that results in median nerve compression in the wrist. It results in impaired nerve function disturbing movement of the hand. The treatment procedures include splinting, physiotherapy, medicines and injections, or surgery is advised in severe CTS patients.
The conservative treatment plan of Splinting and Physiotherapy is designed for moderate CTS patients. The patients should be enlightened about the post-surgical treatment procedure so that they can compare the difference (pros and cons) of both conservative and surgical procedures to treat CTS.
Grip strengthening exercises are suggested post-surgery. The patient is advised such exercises after 3 weeks of surgery. Light grip strengthening exercises like squeezing the smart ball designed by MySquegg is a good option.
Open Reduction Internal Fixation
ORIF of the wrist is a surgical intervention that is useful to repair fractured or broken wrist bones. Such a surgical procedure aims to realign the broken/fractured bones. Internal Fixation means using medical plates and screws to enable mobility and healing. Full recovery post-surgery is possible with physiotherapy.
Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow
This is a common issue faced by athletes and people who work a lot using their hands. Overuse and trauma are the main causes of this issue. Proper treatment can help to resume normal activities. Forearm tendons get inflamed or injured due to overuse. Talking about medical terms, Tennis Elbow is called Lateral Epicondylitis and Golfer’s Elbow is called Medial Epicondylitis. Exercises, splinting, and physiotherapy are the prescribed treatments to treat the issues. Grip strengthening exercises like squeezing balls are the most effective and easy to perform for the patients.
Thumb Carpometacarpal Osteoarthritis
CMC is a point between the metacarpal of the thumb and the trapezium carpal bone. Laxity of the ligament contributes to osteoarthritis of the CMC joint. Deterioration of bone and pain in the area restricts movement of the hand. It is a common degenerative joint disease causing pain in the base of the thumb. Common treatment options include Splinting, grip/hand therapy exercises, and pain management.
De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
This is a disorder that causes wrist pain in the radial styloid. It affects the tendons on the thumb area of the wrist. Turning the wrist will cause pain and making a fist becomes challenging. Activities that require consistent use of the wrist and thumb like gardening, golfing/racket sports, and lifting objects become difficult to perform.
The conservative treatment for the issue is Splinting and exercise. In severe cases, the experts might suggest surgery.
These are some of the common hand therapy interventions and patients who suffer from such problems can undergo the treatment to restore hand mobility. Grip strengthening exercises can be performed under expert supervision and can be easily carried out with the help of the Squegg smart ball.