Written By: Gagan Dhaliwal, OTR/L
Hand and Occupational Therapy is a specialty of ours at SportsCare Physical Therapy in Jefferson, New Jersey. In this article, Occupational Therapist, Gagan Dhaliwal highlights five common injuries we see patients for, and the treatment options available.
1. What is DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis?
DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis is a common hand/wrist injury that our Hand Therapists and Occupational Therapists treat.
DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis is the inflammation of two of the tendons that attach to the thumb and help move it. The two tendons that are inflamed help extend the thumb and move the thumb away from the other fingers (abduction).
Due to inflammation, the movements of extension and abduction of the thumb can be painful. Pain may occur with gripping, turning your wrist (i.e., turning doorknobs and faucets) and when grasping items.
If you feel pain with the movement of your thumb, we encourage you to reach out to our Hand Therapists and Occupational Therapists in Jefferson, NJ to determine if you would be a good candidate for hand therapy.
Hand therapy will include the use of modalities to relieve pain and decrease inflammation, improve range of motion that is pain-free, improve strength (as atrophy can occur) and fitting you for a custom orthotic/splint.
Wearing a custom-fitted splint/orthosis can help decrease inflammation and provide rest for the structures affected, thereby decreasing pain.
2. What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the compression of the median nerve due to inflammation within the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel can be located on the inside of your wrist and within the palm of your hand.
Different structures such as tendons and bones create this tunnel. There are 9 tendons and the median nerve that go through the carpal tunnel. Once one structure is inflamed, it causes compression or irritation on the other structures.
It is important to treat these symptoms as numbness/tingling can occur in the fingers (mostly in your thumb, index, long and part of your ring finger). Symptoms may be worse while sleeping or when waking up in the morning.
Wearing an appropriate custom-fitted splint/orthosis can be quite beneficial in relieving symptoms and reducing pain, in addition to reducing numbness/tingling. Wearing an orthosis provides an opportunity for the inflamed tendon and/or nerve to heal and rest, thereby decreasing inflammation.
In addition to wearing an orthosis, treatment for carpal tunnel through Occupational Therapy and/or Hand Therapy in Lake Hopatcong, NJ is important in strengthening and improving movement at the wrist.
Therapy can help open up the carpal tunnel to provide space and decrease compression of the median nerve.
3. What is a TFCC Injury?
A TFCC (triangular fibrocartilage complex) injury generally presents with pain on the ulnar side of your wrist/hand. The ulnar side of your wrist is the side where the forearm bone of the ulna is located, which is on the pinky side of your forearm.
This pain is exacerbated when pushing off a chair, or doing push-ups/planks on the palms of hands. The TFCC is a complex of ligaments that helps provides stability on the ulnar side of your wrist – it is considered to be a load-bearing structure.
If the injury is not addressed, it can lead to a possible TFCC tear. Regarding a TFCC injury, a therapist can provide you education on how to complete activities with modifications to decrease pain and use other techniques such as kinesiotape to provide relief as well.
If you feel you may have a possible TFCC injury or have any sort of wrist/hand pain, please do not hesitate to reach out and make an appointment with one of our Hand Therapists.
4. What is Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)?
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a common injury that Occupational Therapists and Hand Therapists treat. Tennis elbow refers to pain on the top part of your arm – at the lateral epicondyle of your elbow.
Tennis elbow is inflammation of the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. The lateral epicondyle of your elbow is the pointy aspect of your elbow you feel along the pinky side of your forearm.
A person with tennis elbow will report tenderness with palpation at the lateral epicondyle of elbow, in addition to pain with wrist movements (specifically wrist extension).
Tennis elbow is due to repetitive movements, not necessarily from playing tennis. Patients with tennis elbow can have difficulty with extending elbow, extending wrist and often grasping/gripping items such as a water bottle.
Treatment for tennis elbow with a Hand Therapist or an Occupational Therapist includes, but not limited to, use of modalities to decrease inflammation, pain management and strengthening of grip and forearm musculature.
5. What is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?
Cubital tunnel syndrome is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome; however, it is an entrapment of the ulnar nerve, rather than the median nerve.
A person who has cubital tunnel syndrome will report numbness and/or tingling in their ring and pinky finger. They may also report pain on the inside of their elbow.
The cubital tunnel is located on the inside of the elbow and is also formed by bones and musculature. Inflammation of the nerve or other tendons within the cubital tunnel causes compression of the ulnar nerve, thereby producing symptoms at the elbow or in the fingers.
A person with cubital tunnel syndrome will report weakness in grip, pain with gripping and pain with bending elbow.
A Hand Therapist and/or Occupational Therapist can assist in providing recommendations for modifications of activities that increase symptoms, education on do’s and don’ts to manage symptoms, treatment for tingling and/or numbness, in addition to the treatment of pain and improving strength and movement at the elbow, wrist and fingers/hand.
Hand & Occupational Therapy at SportsCare
Our Hand Therapists and Occupational Therapists are trained and specialize in treating the upper extremity – the shoulder girdle, elbow, wrist and hand.
These therapists have additional training and/or certifications to treat the upper extremity. These therapists take a person-centered approach to ensure each patient returns to the activities that they find are important.
Hand Therapist and Occupational Therapy in Jefferson, New Jersey uses various modalities and treatment approaches including soft tissue mobilization, wound care, joint mobilizations, etc. to address your symptoms.
If you are unsure whether you would be a good candidate for Hand Therapy or Occupational Therapy, please reach out to our Jefferson, NJ location and our staff can help you.