Hand therapy is the non-surgical management of hand disorders and injuries using education, support and encouragement and physical methods such as exercise, splinting and wound care.
Hand therapy brings together techniques of occupational therapy:
Acute onset of hypersensitivity, numbness or pain
There are many arthritic conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Symptoms treated include pain, swollen joints, fingers drifting towards little finger, thumb deformity, early morning stiffness, pain at night, cold hands, finger deformities including swan neck and boutonniere reduced movement and grip.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is pressure on a nerve in your wrist. It causes tingling, numbness and pain in your hand and fingers. It can sometimes stop the muscles around the thumb from working properly. Often surgery is also required, but not always.
A congenital hand condition is one noted at birth. Anomalies can be relatively minor, such as an angulation of the little finger (clinodactyly/camptodactyly) or can be more significant, such as hypoplasia which is when a finger or thumb hasn’t developed properly.
CRPS is a condition in which a person experiences persistent severe and debilitating pain. Although most cases of CRPS are triggered by an injury, the resulting pain is much more severe and long-lasting than would be expected. The pain is usually confined to one limb, but it can sometimes spread to other parts of the body.
The skin of the affected body part can become so sensitive therfore just a slight touch, bump or even a change in temperature can provoke intense pain. Affected areas can also become swollen, stiff or undergo fluctuating changes in colour or temperature.
A neurological disorder can result in a range of symptoms including tone changes and the inability to use the hand and arm effectively for function. Sometimes the joints can become tight in one position and need assistance to be stretched out. Sensation can also be affected.
This is numbness, tingling or pain of the hand and upper limb due to a nerve injury in the neck, arm or hand. Muscles can also be wasted or immobile as the nerve is not giving them the signal to work.
Often the injury is temporary and will resolve over time with splinting, exercises and advice, but if more severe, the nerve often needs surgery to heal correctly and enable sensation to return
This is when the nerve is trapped at the elbow where the “funny bone” gets knocked. It often causes tingling and numbness in the little and ring fingers and can affect the movement in the muscles and finger position and reduces grip.
The hand therapist can educate and assist with emotional and psychological support, along with helping to restore hand function.