We use our hands everyday, and for every little thing. From waking up in the morning to getting ready for bed. If our hands aren’t working right, or are causing us pain, it can really disrupt daily life. Pain or weakness in the hands (and wrists and elbows) typically stems from two sources: injury or disease. And, just like the complex and intricate duties the hands perform each day, is the complexity and intricacy of the hands’ anatomy. It is for this reason that treatment is best “placed in the hands” of hand therapists.
What is Hand Therapy?
Hand therapy is the rehabilitation of the hands and upper extremities, which includes the wrist, elbow and shoulder. Many of ATI’s hand therapists are Certified Hand Therapists, who through many years of additional training beyond practicing as a physical or occupational therapist, have a specialized knowledge of the hand. Hand therapists utilize exercise, custom splinting, wound care and preventative care to help restore patients’ function.
Why Hand Therapy?
An injury to your hand, wrist, or elbow can be extremely annoying—particularly if it interferes with sports, leisure, work, and/or basic daily tasks. Hand therapists are able to focus on resolving the symptoms which are limiting you from completing not only the things you need to do, but also the things you love to do.
So what are some of the more common ailments of the hands? And, most importantly, how can they be treated?
Phyllis Peterson, Certified Hand Therapist with ATI Physical Therapy in Cleveland, has over 30 years experience practicing physical therapy, and over 15 years treating hand and upper extremities. Phyllis discusses common symptoms and treatments available for ailments of the hand:
“An injury to the upper extremity can cause pain and swelling, in addition to decreased mobility, strength and function,” says Phyllis. “There are numerous conditions that affect the hand, and hand therapists can evaluate them to help determine the best course of treatment to help resolve symptoms and restore function.”
Hand therapy utilizes modalities such as; ultrasound, Iontophoresis, Fluidotherapy, paraffin and electrical stimulation to assist with the relief of pain. In some situations, the utilization of custom fabricated splints may be indicated to assist with improving flexibility, reducing pain, and protection of injured structures or surgical repairs. Manual therapy in the form of edema or scar massage and soft tissue mobilization is also utilized. Additionally, exercise is a major component in treatment of an upper extremity injury. Every condition which affects the hands requires an individualized evaluation to determine what type and frequency of exercise would best achieve the goals of the individual.
Common injures or conditions that a hand therapist will be able to evaluate and treat include:
• Nerve Compressions/Irritations (Carpal Tunnel and Cubital Tunnel)
• Dupuytren’s Disease (abnormal thickening of the tissue just beneath the skin known as fascia)
• Sprain and Strains
• Tenosynovitis/Tendonitis (DeQuervain’s, Trigger Finger, and Epicondylitis)
Hand Therapists provide “hands on” care help you achieve your goals and return to the highest quality of life! If you are suffering from aches and pains in your hands, contact your local ATI for a complimentary screening. The hand therapists at will evaluate your injury and provide you with options for continued care.