Hand, Wrist and Arm in Happy Valley
We often take our arms and hands for granted and don’t appreciate their involvement in nearly all aspects of our daily lives. Everything from sports participation, typing on a keyboard, writing, dressing, and personal hygiene utilize our arms and hands to complete the desired tasks. Simple injuries can lead to highly disruptive losses of function.
Commonly Treated Injuries Below the Shoulder –
Many hand injuries involve repetitive stress injuries. We use our hands more frequently than we acknowledge. Our fingers nimbly dance across a keyboard at work, dexterously button our shirts, and tightly grip those 10 grocery bags while running into your home. Simply put, sometimes we over do it. The muscles and tendons in our hands respond to use just as any other muscle in our body. If we overuse them without adequate rest, it can set us up for inflammatory conditions. Once the inflammatory response snowballs into a symptomatic issue, it can be difficult to self-manage without the guided assistance by one of our expert physical therapists.
Treatment strategies will focus on –
- Reducing inflammation
- Restore symptom-free motion
- Rehabilitate strength without pain
Identifying the underlying cause of your symptoms is paramount to finding a treatment approach that will work for you while preventing re-injury later. Frequently, we fall into the strategy of “rest and see”, expecting our symptoms to resolve, and in many instances, they do! Unfortunately, if your symptoms were triggered by a mechanical abnormality in your hand, your work/home ergonomics, or your training habits, the likelihood of symptom relapse is quite high. Getting stuck in the proverbial “rut” of symptoms getting better and then worse, rinse and repeat.
Often our wrists can become sore and ache after strain from large or repetitive loading, especially if you are turning the wrist while under load. The tissues that stabilize our wrists are not as supportive as elsewhere in our bodies and can become overwhelmed more readily. Common examples include: using a hammer or power tool frequently, lifting and turning objects – such as lumber or books, racquet sports, or carrying a relatively heavy object over time.
Another common form of wrist injury is a sprain. Sprains are typically experienced when your wrist is suddenly forced beyond it’s normal range of motion, resulting in damage to the local tissues. Example mechanisms include: falling on an outstretched hand or an unexpected impact to your hand from something in the environment, such as a door or countertop.
Utilizing a wrist brace to minimize cumulative stress and strain to your wrist after an injury is usually a good idea. We keep braces on hand in the clinic to dispense but they are also readily available at most retail pharmacy stores.
Your carpal tunnel is an anatomical feature on the palmar side of your wrists describing a tube which many tendons, vascular structures, and your median nerve pass through into the hand. When there is an accumulation of inflammation in the region, the resultant swelling will create a limitation of space and further compression to the median nerve. With prolonged compression & irritation, you will begin noticing several hallmark symptoms develop over time:
- Pain and/or discomfort at wrist into hand
- Numbness and/or tingling into hand (primarily your thumb, pointer, and middle fingers)
- Weakness in grip strength
- Possible observable atrophy of the muscle along your thumb
Because this condition is most commonly developed by overuse or repetitive strain, common treatment strategies will include the following:
- Postural training
- Ergonomic education
- Brace/splinting of wrist
- Assessment of sport equipment fit
Sometimes a similar symptom presentation may occur from a problem originating from your neck. A thorough evaluation by one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy will be able to identify where your problem is coming from.
Despite the names “Tennis Elbow” and “Golfer’s Elbow” you don’t need to play either to experience these common conditions. These conditions are used to describe muscle strain injuries to the back of the forearm and front of the forearm, respectively. When excessive strain or repetitious loading occurs beyond your physiologic capacity, injury develops in the muscle/tendon complex and can commonly be experienced near the elbow itself. Unfortunately, these conditions are quite prevalent and it is likely you know someone else who currently also has or has had one of these conditions. Luckily, these are easily treated with physical therapy and full resolution of symptoms is expected.
If arm pain has been interfering with your life, call us today to get started on a plan of care that works for you. Ascent Physical Therapy is conveniently located off Sunnyside Road in Happy Valley. We also love treating our neighboring communities of Damascus, Gresham, Clackamas, and Sandy at our top rated physical therapy clinic!