Is Hand Therapy Right for You?

  • Home
  • Archive by category "Hand Therapy"

Male patient having consultation with doctor or psychiatrist who working on diagnostic examination on men's health disease or mental illness in medical clinic or hospital mental health service center

Is Hand Therapy Right for You?

At Contact Physical Therapy, we are happy to offer hand therapy to our patients. For those of you who didn’t know hand therapy was a thing you may be thinking… what are the reasons I would need to see a hand therapist? Well, we are here to break that down and tell you. If you have any questions wondering if hand therapy is right for you, feel free to give us a call, we would be happy to help!

 

Hand therapy is a type of rehabilitation performed by an occupational or physical therapist with patients that suffer from conditions affecting the hands and upper extremities. Patients who are candidates for hand therapy may have been in an accident or trauma leaving them with scars, burns, wounds, injured tendons, nerves, fractures, amputations of the fingers, hands, arms, etc. Other candidates may be ones who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow and other chronic problems such as arthritis or stokes.

 

A hand therapy specialist can provide:

  • Accurate assessments, immediate care and effective treatment to reduce treatment time
  • Faster recovery results in decreased medical costs
  • A continuum of care eliminating the needs for multiple medical providers
  • Functional outcomes ensuring a faster return to work and productive lifestyle
  • Most comprehensive care for their patients

 

Still wondering if you should see a hand therapist for your pain? Below are common reasons hand therapy would be good for you.

 

  1. You have injured your fingers playing sports. Many times these types of injuries will get taped up and forgotten until weeks later when the fingers become problematic. When this is caught early, a hand therapist can often treat these injuries with minimal visits. If this sounds familiar with the sports star in your life, it may be time to give a hand therapist a call!
  2. Wrist Fractures. This common injury can be more complicated than you think. Hand therapists can work one on one with you and your injury to determine the best exercises and treatment for your specific wrist fracture.
  3. Elbow Fractures. Elbow fractures can be stubborn to treat and regaining range of motion can be lengthy. Seeing a hand therapist can lessen your treatment time and get you on a quicker path to recovery or sent to a specialist to better help you.
  4. Carpal tunnel syndrome. This can be in your hand or arm and you are feeling a tingling, severe pain, muscle weakness or numbness by a pinched nerve.
  5. Arthritis. Intermitted sharp pains, swelling, stiffness or decreased range of motion in any part of your upper extremities caused by infections, normal wear and tear and some diseases.

 

All these are reasons you should see a hand therapists, plus many more. If you think hand therapy may be right for you or if you have any questions, give us a call. We would be happy to answer any questions and get you scheduled with a hand therapist!

Types of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy has been practiced for ages. Documents show physical therapy being practiced in 460 BC by Hippocrates when he introduced the idea of manual manipulation for pain relief. It has since grown from more of a massage type practice then, to multiple different types you see in modern day physical therapy, today. Physical therapy has advanced and grown over the years to the many types you may or may not know about.

 

Geriatric Physical Therapy

As people age the need for routine physical therapy may grow with them. Getting older can be tough on the Skelton and muscles. When the body is younger, you may compensate for pains or things such as bad posture, but as you get older those problems become harder to ignore. Misuse of the body may also increase the need for physical therapy as you age. Your muscles become weaker and you may not be able to compensate for the way you were previous living. Physical therapy can help fix or reverse pain and damage. It is safe, effective and less stressful than surgeries or medication.

 

Orthopedic Physical Therapy

This type of physical therapy may be on you are familiar with. This type is designed to help you and your body recover after a surgery to strengthen your muscles that you injured. You may be surprised by the positive effects that physical therapy has on the body. Whether the injury is old, reoccurring or rebuilding strength after a surgery, therapy can target key muscle groups to get you back to your healthy self.

 

Neurological Physical Therapy

Problems with your neurological system such as: spinal cord injuries, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, brain injuries or cerebral palsy all strike at the nervous system. The nervous system is how your brain controls your body. Most of these disorders are chronic which mean they are unlikely to be healed completely, but physical therapy can have a great positive impact on life with these disorders. Therapists can teach small therapeutic exercises which can make the effects on muscles and movement become more manageable.

 

Cardiovascular/Pulmonary Physical Therapy

Cardiopulmonary physical therapy has a main goal about building independence if you have a serious problem with your heart or circulation. These problems could include: heart attacks or pulmonary fibrosis and therapy can help you grow strength in target muscles to help improve your endurance.

 

Physical therapy includes all these and more. If you think physical therapy may be right for you call our office to talk about your pain and options.

Opioids

Physical Therapy VS Opioids

Many Americans suffer through back and body pain. Often times people jump to the conclusion of intense back surgery or masking the pain with opioids. Both of these could have highly dangerous outcomes and could prolong or worsen your problem. Before you jump to conclusions, physical therapy may be able to ease or solve your pain without drugs or surgery.

A study conducted by The University of Washington in Seattle, Washington and George Washington University in Washington, D.C., showed that patients who saw a physical therapist before trying other treatments such as surgery or an opioid prescription had an 89 percent lower probability of needing such treatments. This study also concluded that patients of physical therapy have a 28 percent lower probability of having any advanced imaging done as well as a 15 percent lower probability of making one or more ER visit.

Physical therapists have specialized knowledge in pain management and how to correct your body to relieve yourself of pain, such as lower back pain. Therapists can guide patients through regimens and exercises to strengthen and improve muscles which can ease pain.

If you are deciding if physical therapy is right for you vs other options consider these points.

The risk of opioids outweigh the rewards- potential side effects of include depression, overdose, and addiction, in addition to withdrawal symptoms when stopping opioid use. Because of these risks experts believe that opioids should not be the first option or routine therapy for chronic pain.

Pain lasts 90 days or more- Pain is considered chronic at this point. The CDC guidelines state that nonopioid therapy is preferred for chronic pain and opioids only should be considered if the benefits for both pain and function outweigh the risk to the patient. Try to consider physical therapy as a first option for chronic pain relief.

Pain is related to low back pain, hip, knee or fibromyalgia- Physical therapy has shown high evidence stating that exercise as part of treatment for these conditions can help reduce and heal pain.

If opioids are prescribed for pain- It is recommended to receive the lowest effective dose and still be combined with nonopioid therapies, such as physical therapy.

Before starting any opioid treatments consult with your doctor and physical therapist to find the best treatment for you and your pain.

Smart Phone

Is your smart phone causing you pain?

Is your smart phone causing you pain? Our bodies are meant to adapt to our surroundings and how we use them, but our bodies can’t adapt quickly enough with technology. The new iPad you just got will be old news in a few months, but our hands can’t catch up that fast. Overuse of your hands and thumbs from smart phone and tablets could be the reason you are having pains there.

From early on in age, smartphones, iPads, game controllers all demand high use of our hands and especially our thumbs. Many of us can’t help it, though. In this current time of instant communication, we can’t seem to put our phones down for a second. Whether you’re a baby staying quiet in the grocery store, a gossiping teenage girl, or professional typing out persuasive emails, our world revolves around our devices. You may even be reading this blog on your phone, right now!

Overuse of your thumb can lead to inflammation or tendentious. Overuse could open the door to a number of pains in your thumbs or hands such as, aching, throbbing and cramping. If you are experiencing any of these pains, you should schedule a visit with your physical therapist or give us a call to schedule a consultation, today!

At Contact Physical Therapy we have experienced hand therapists on our staff who can help you through these types of pains.

Some of the following tips or stretches should be done to help ease the pain of overuse or prevent any future issues.

  • Place your phone on a table, pillow or in your lap to use other fingers for typing or swiping. Holding your phone in one hand and having that thumb do all the work is the worst position for these conditions.
  • Take a break. Stop the motions that are aggravating the area. At this time a much needed and well deserved break is usually in order. Your phone doesn’t have the control here. People don’t need immediate response every second.
  • Opening your palm to the ceiling and using your opposite pointer finger to push down on your open-hand’s thumb for a stretch. Repeat on the other side.
  • Open and close your fingertips with a rubber band around them to strengthen these muscles.
  • Avoid doing the same motions for multiple activities. If you felt you have been on your phone a lot that day, try to avoid playing video games.
  • Switch hands so one hand isn’t constantly doing all the work. This will be a nice challenge for your brain as well.
  • Rest and ice is highly recommended.
  • See a physical therapist to asses any issues and give you professional treatment for your pain.

The bottom line is: try to give your hands a rest from time to time. If your job doesn’t require much email exchange on the weekends, try to detox yourself from your phone for a day or two. Try going on an unplugged vacation. The freedom from your phone might surprise you and your hands will be thankful too!

 

Carpal tunnel

5 Tips For Preventing Or Easing Carpal Tunnel Pain

The reality of today’s world is that our lives pretty much revolve around the use of computers and smart phones. In fact, a Nielsen Company audience report released last year reveals that adults in the United States devoted about 10 hours and 39 minutes each day to consuming media during the first quarter of 2016. So, what does this mean for our health? It certainly means an increased chance of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Along with pregnancy and various illnesses such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, making the same hand or wrist movements over and over, especially if the wrist is bent down, is a leading cause of carpal tunnel.

It can be difficult to avoid the use of these devices, especially if your job requires you to spend most of your day on the computer. We decided to put together a few tips for preventing or easing the pain of carpal tunnel.

Relax your grip –

If you consistently spend a lot of time writing, try using a pen with an oversized, soft grip to help loosen your grip on your pen.

Take frequent breaks –

Take time to gently stretch your wrists throughout the day and alternate tasks requiring different movements when possible.

Watch your form –

Incorrect posture or wrist placement can be damaging. Avoid bending your wrists all the way up or down, a relaxed middle position with your keyboard at elbow height or slightly lower is best. Avoid rolling your shoulders forward.

Keep Your Hands Warm –

Consistently working in a chilly room can lead to stiffness in the hands, which can lead to soreness. Do whatever you can to keep your hands warm, even if it means bringing some fingerless gloves into the office.

Take Up Yoga –

Anything that builds strength or promotes flexibility is great for your physical health in general, yoga is a great option because it is low impact and can help relieve pain and keep your wrists flexible.

It is always best to be proactive when it comes to your physical health. If you already have carpal tunnel these tips are great for helping to reduce pain, if you are unsure if the aches and pains you are experiencing are a result of carpal tunnel, contact us today to schedule a complimentary injury assessment with one of our experienced therapists.
arthritis diet

7 Ingredients To Avoid When You Have Arthritis

Having arthritis means that your body is in an inflammatory state. The foods that you eat have a big impact on increasing or decreasing inflammation in the body. Having a list of things that you are not allowed to eat is not necessarily fun, but in order to ease the pain of arthritis it is worth it to do your best to avoid these ingredients. Here are 7 ingredients to avoid if you have arthritis.

  1.     Sugar – It can be one of the hardest ingredients to give up because most of us are addicted to the taste of our favorite desserts, chocolate bars, sodas or even fruit juices. However, processed sugar is a huge culprit of inflammation in the body. Be careful to read the ingredients of your favorite foods. Sugar goes by many names, including sucrose and fructose.
  2.     Saturated Fats – Pizza, cheese, full-fat dairy products, pasta dishes, grain-based desserts and some meat products are some of the biggest sources of saturated fats in the average American diet. Studies have shown that saturated fats trigger fat tissue inflammation, which can be an indication of heart disease and can increase arthritis inflammation.
  3.     Trans Fats – They are known to trigger systemic inflammation. Trans fats are found mostly in fast food, fried products, processed snack foods, frozen food products, cookies, donuts and stick margarines. Look for “partially hydrogenated oils,” on the ingredients labels to indicate trans fats and avoid these products.
  4.     Omega-6 Fatty Acids – Not to be confused with omega-3 fatty acids. The body needs a healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3. But, excess consumption of omega-6 can produce pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body. It can be found in certain oils such as sunflower, grapeseed, peanut and vegetable. It is also found in mayonnaise and many salad dressings.
  5.     Refined Carbohydrates – White flour breads, rolls, crackers, white rice, white potatoes and many cereals are examples of refined carbohydrates. These are quite possibly worse than fats; they are high-glycemic index foods and stimulate inflammation.
  6.     MSG – Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor-enhancing food additive that is most commonly found in Asian food, soy sauce, fast foods, soup mixes, salad dressing and deli meats. MSG can affect liver health and trigger chronic inflammation.
  7.     Aspartame – Get rid of those diet sodas and don’t fall for any sweets that say “sugar free.” Aspartame is an artificial sweetener with zero nutritional value, and is a neurotoxin that affects the brain. It is a foreign substance that your immune system will react to by attacking if you are sensitive to this chemical. When the immune system triggers an attack it will also trigger an inflammatory response.

Cutting out or even just cutting back on these inflammatory ingredients, while increasing your intake of whole foods, fruits, vegetables and getting more omega-3 can make a world of difference for your arthritis pain. Don’t let arthritis stop you from living your life.

If you believe you are in need of further assistance in managing your pain, or are unsure if physical therapy would be beneficial for you, schedule your free consultation with one of our experience physical therapists.
repetitive hand injuries

9 Ways You Can Prevent Repetitive Strain Hand Injuries

Put Down the Phone to Prevent Repetitive Strain Hand Injuries

repetitive hand injuries

You may not realize just how much time you spend on your smartphone or iPad, but too much texting and scrolling can cause repetitive stress injuries on the hands and fingers. This constant movement could be hurting your joints.

What are repetitive strain injuries?

Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and bursitis can be both painful and debilitating.  Symptoms may include pain, numbness, throbbing, tightness or a dull ache in one concentrated area.

How can you prevent repetitive strain injuries to your hand?

Do you have trouble gripping things or feel pain in your thumbs or wrists when typing or texting? You may have a form of repetitive strain injury. Learn how to protect your hands from repetitive strain injuries.

9 ways you can prevent repetitive strains:

  • Put your phone down—cut down on the time you are texting, swiping and clicking
  • Rest—avoid any actions that hurt your hand
  • Take breaks—stretch your hands and fingers during the day
  • Ice the swollen area
  • Anti-inflammatory medication may help ease the pain
  • Practice good posture while texting and typing—keep your head and shoulders back to help prevent upper body pains and strains
  • Call people instead of texting them if possible
  • Regular exercise, stretching and strengthening may help prevent strain on your hands and fingers
  • Reduce your keystrokes—keep your text messages brief, use abbreviations or voice recognition software to write messages

Get the Upper Hand with These Hand Facts:

  • There are more than 25 bones in each of your hands
  • The first recorded handshake was found in an Egyptian hieroglyphic
  • Studies show that holding hands can decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol
  • A friendly touch can increase the release of oxytocin which promotes feelings of trust, devotion and bonding
  • 10-15% of the population is left-handed
  • 1 in 100 people are naturally ambidextrous—they can use both hands equally well
  • Want to be a hand model?  Hand modeling requires certain criteria:  an even skin tone, even and nicely shaped nails, straight fingers and a smooth-looking complexion to name a few

If you or your patients feel pain in the fingers or wrists Contact Physical Therapy will help get to the bottom of pain and provide treatment to prevent further injury.

Follow us on Facebook for more tips like these!

carpal tunnel syndrome

How Can Hand Therapy Help with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

carpal tunnel syndrome

We don’t realize just how much we use our hands and wrists in our daily lives—until we begin experiencing pain.  Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a disorder that causes pain and weakness in the hand and wrist that can affect the use of the whole arm. CTS develops from pressure on a nerve in the wrist — not the muscles, as some people believe. Affecting 1 out of 20 Americans, CTS is a common condition.  Fortunately for most people who develop CTS, therapy can often relieve pain and numbness and restore normal use of the hand, wrist, and arm without the need for surgery.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CTS

CTS usually starts gradually, with symptoms such as burning or tingling.  Often, the symptoms are more noticeable during the night, and individuals can be awakened by the pain.  As the condition progresses, the symptoms are noticed during the daytime as well and often worse when holding items—you may find that you drop objects unexpectedly or have a weak grip.

HOW CAN A CERTIFIED HAND THERAPIST HELP?

After an evaluation, your handtherapist will prescribe your treatment plan based on your specific case.  Depending on the causes of your CTS, your therapy program may include:

  • Exercises to increase the strength of the muscles in your hand, fingers, and forearm
  • Stretching exercises to improve the flexibility of the wrist, hand and fingers
  • Use of heat/cold treatments to relieve pain and reduce any inflammation of tissues in the wrist that puts pressure on the median nerve
  • Massage to increase circulation and relax muscles
  • Proper neck and upper back posture education—avoiding slouching
  • You may be provided with a wrist splint to keep your wrist straight, generally at night
  • Tips about daily activities including how to use your computer and keyboard and minimizing repetitive activities.

CAN CTS BE PREVENTED?

There are no proven ways to prevent CTS, but you can minimize the stress to your hands and wrists.  The following strategies are effective ways to minimize stress to your hands and wrists.

  • Take breaks.  When doing repeated activities, give your hands a break by performing stretching exercises.
  • Reduce force.  Many people use more force than necessary when performing work with their hands.  Relax your grip to avoid muscle fatigue and strain.
  • Improve your posture.  Believe it or not, proper alignment of your neck and shoulders can prevent excessive strain and improper positioning of the wrists and hands.
  • Maintain good health.  Staying physically fit and maintaining a healthy weight may help control diseases and conditions that may contribute to the onset of CTS.
  • Neutral wrist position.  Try to avoid bending your wrists by keeping them in a straight or “neutral” position.  Your wrist should not be bent up or down.

As always, the goals of hand therapy are to reduce your symptoms without the need for surgery, to enable you to continue moving pain free, and to help you resume your normal activities.

hand therapist

Physical Therapy and Hand Therapy

Patients can have numerous questions regarding physical therapy and hand therapy, what to expect and why it may be the best option for them. So, to help you answer those patient questions, we interviewed Noah Arenson, PT and Karen Thomas, OTR/L, CHT.


physical therapistWhy do you think physical therapy may be the best treatment plan for me?

Noah: The initial evaluation with determine that fact. The advantage of undergoing physical therapy is learning your body’s limitations and discovering how to address them to your

advantage. If we do not identify impairments we can address through physical therapy, we would discuss with your healthcare provider a more appropriate route for care.

How involved will you be in my day-to-day therapy?

Noah: Each session would involve hands-on manual treatments, as indicated, followed by progressive therapeutic exercise specific to your individual goals. I, or your assigned physical therapist, would be involved directly throughout the entire visit every visit.

Will I see the same physical therapist for each appointment, or will I be assigned a different therapist each time?

Noah: You will see the same physical therapist from the initial evaluation until your last appointment. You will not work with anyone but your assigned physical therapist.

What are some things I can do on my own, at home, to improve my condition?

Noah: Depending on what we discover through the initial evaluation, we will identify the specific muscle groups to strengthen, stretch or coordinate. A home exercise program is provided at the first session and progressed throughout your time of care. Open communication with your therapist is important in reaching your rehabilitation goals.

hand therapistWill I experience pain or discomfort during my visit?

Karen: This will depend on your diagnosis. If you have a condition such as a wrist or finger fracture and are coming out of a cast or brace, the wrist and fingers can be stiff or uncomfortable when motion is initiated. Certified Hand Therapists are trained to respect pain and the healing structures of the injury. Most patients tolerate treatment well & note improvement the first session.

How long will each hand therapy session be?

Karen: Sessions are usually 1-1.5 hours, allowing for one-on-one manual therapy, modalities of heat, ice and ultrasound as needed, and exercises and instruction in home exercises and care.

What are the most common injuries or conditions requiring hand therapy?

Karen: Conditions we commonly treat include fractures (shoulder, elbow, wrist & fingers), tendon lacerations and repairs, trigger finger or trigger thumb, carpal tunnel or cubital tunnel syndrome or release, rotator cuff syndrome or repair, deQuervain’s tendonitis, all upper extremity tendonitis conditions, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and infections.

How do you determine what course of hand therapy treatment is best for me?

Karen: During your first visit you will undergo an initial evaluation including questions about your pain, symptoms, functional abilities, range of motion and sensation and strength measurements. Your therapist will identify problems and work with you to set goals. In some instances, your diagnosis may have a set protocol for splint duration and when you will be able to fully move and strengthen your arm/hand. You and your therapist will then review your protocol, goals and plans.