Physiotherapy For Wrist Pain
Causes for Pain in Wrist and Hand
If you’re experiencing pain in the wrist and hand, there could be several reasons as to why. Common injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome as well as conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can cause pain in the wrist and hand. Physiotherapy for wrist pain & hand pain is the best treatment for pain.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
About the width of your thumb, the carpal tunnel is a narrow channel on the palm side of your wrist. The tunnel protects the median nerve and the tendons that bend your fingers. Pressure on the nerve can cause weakness and pain in your wrist and hand and numbness or tingling in some of your fingers. This pressure is caused by crowding or irritation of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel and can lead to CTS.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
CTS is a common cause of pain in your wrist and hands. Driving a vehicle or using machinery that vibrates will aggravate the symptoms of CTS. Excessive keyboard and computer use can cause CTS. People who work in jobs like meatpacking and assembly line work are especially prone to developing CTS. Sports like racquetball and activities like sewing and playing the violin can also cause you to develop CTS. If you experience pain in your wrist or hand that doesn’t go away, physical therapy can help ease the pain.
The following health conditions can also lead to CTS in some individuals:
- Inflammation and swelling of the tendons of the wrist
- Injuries to the wrist (strain, sprain, dislocation, fracture)
- Hormone or metabolic changes (pregnancy, menopause, thyroid imbalance)
- Fluid retention (eg, during pregnancy)
- Certain medicine use (eg, steroids)
- Degenerative and rheumatoid arthritis
Signs and Symptoms
CTS usually starts gradually, with symptoms such as burning, tingling, “pins and needles,” or numbness in the palm and fingers. Often the symptoms are more noticeable during the night, and individuals often report being wakened with symptoms. Many people feel the need to “shake out” their hands to try to relieve the symptoms.
As the condition progresses, the symptoms are noticed during the daytime and are often worse when holding items such as a heavy book or a hairbrush. A weakness of the hand and more constant numbness may occur if the pressure on the nerve continues. You may find that you drop objects unexpectedly or a weak grip. You may also experience pain in your wrist and hand.
How Can a Physical Therapist Help?
After the evaluation, your physical therapist will prescribe your treatment plan based on your specific case. If your evaluation confirms early-stage CTS, your therapist will recommend conservative care as a first step. Physical therapy treatment can be effective in reducing your symptoms so you can perform daily tasks without pain.
Depending upon the causes of your CTS, your therapy program may include:
- Education regarding changing wrist positions, proper neck and upper back posture, safe use of sharp utensils and tools, and incorporating stretching into your daily activities.
- Exercises to increase the strength of the muscles in your hand, fingers, and forearm—and in some cases, the trunk and postural back muscles
- Stretching exercises to improve the flexibility of the wrist, hand, and fingers.
- Use of heat/cold treatments to relieve pain.
- Use of a night splint to reduce discomfort.
- A worksite visit to assess your work area. For example, if you sit at a desk and work on a computer, it’s important for the keyboard to be in proper alignment to help avoid working in a bent wrist position.
- Increasing the size of the tool and utensil handles by adding extra material for a more comfortable grip.
- Using anti-vibration gloves or anti-vibration wraps around tool handles if this is a factor at your workplace.
Your physical therapist will also consider your home and leisure activities, with recommendations such as wearing gloves to keep the wrist/hands warm and limiting sports that aggravate the condition, such as racquet sports, until symptoms resolve.