Hand pain can affect anyone but is particularly common among baby boomers. Traumatic injury accounts for some pain, but arthritis is a factor for many people. It’s estimated that one out of every five people in the U.S. has at least one joint with arthritis symptoms. Because of their complex structure and the high demands we place on our hands, they are vulnerable to injury. And some sports, activities, hobbies and jobs (including hair stylist, dental hygienist and musician) are particularly hard on them.
“Chronic, or every day, hand pain can make it difficult to perform ordinary tasks,” says Peggy Boineau, certified hand therapist. “However, specialized hand therapy can help you protect and strengthen your hands so that you can use them for those tasks that are so important to you, with less pain and for longer periods of time.”
Most people wouldn’t think of going on a long walk without wearing proper shoes, yet we often fail to protect our hands when we participate in hand-intensive activities. To protect your hands, be conscious of ergonomics (the way things are arranged so that you can move more efficiently and safely) at home and in the office. Remember to use good posture and proper positioning, and avoid overly using one hand in activities that require repetitive motion. Protective gloves and tools can help you complete tasks while lessening impact on your hands.
“Hand therapists receive specialized training that enables them to teach patients how to perform activities in ways to help decrease pain and protect their hands,” Boineau shares. “Hand therapists also help patients use better ergonomics, including repositioning hands and arms to reduce strain and repetitive-motion injuries.”
Other Hand Treatment/Therapies
• Daily exercises to strengthen and maintain the range of motion in hands, and heat therapy for improving circulation and mobility.
• Customized splinting to protect and rest injured tendons and joints and to stretch joints that have become stiff.
• Biofeedback, which measures a muscle’s electrical activity and may help pinpoint which muscles contribute to pain and stress.
• Iontophoresis, which delivers an anti-inflammatory medication through the skin using electrical current.
• Fluidotherapy (dry whirlpool), paraffin treatments, ultrasound and/or electrical stimulation.
To schedule an appointment with a hand therapist at Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s two state-of-the-art Physical Therapy and Sports Rehab locations, please call 281-201-0405.