Elbow, Wrist & Hand Pain
You likely will never realize how dependent your daily life is on the functional and pain-free use of your hands, wrists and elbows until you experience an injury or other cause of chronic pain that impedes your ability to do tasks freely and without discomfort. Hand, wrist and elbow pain creates a huge complication in your life, preventing you from being able to engage in the simplest of tasks without discomfort. Depending on the severity of the pain, issues with your hands, wrists or elbows could prevent you from being able to drive, work on the computer, cook dinner, use your phone, do tasks around the house, and so much more.
What makes matters even more complicated is the interconnected nature of your hands and arms. Injury to one part of your hand or arm could cause pain throughout the entire area. Hurting your finger could cause pain in your hand, and a cramp in your palm could lead to discomfort through your wrist and arm. Leaving hand pain, wrist pain, or elbow pain to heal on its own is a bad idea. Regardless of how hard you try to rest these areas, chances are the constant need to complete even minor tasks will continue to aggravate the pain and may cause you enhanced discomfort.
If you experience pain that lasts longer than a day or two, it is a good idea to contact your physical therapist to gain understanding about the reason for the pain, and to explore different treatment and pain management options.
Because your hands and arms are so interconnected, a task or injury that involves one part, such as your lower arm, can end up causing everything from finger numbness to elbow pain. Don’t make any assumptions about when the pain will go away. In many situations, minor issues become major setbacks because immediate action wasn’t taken to resolve an injury. An occupational therapist can help you sort through the best options for managing your hand, wrist and elbow pain.
Why elbow, wrist & hand pain?
Listed below are a few of the most common conditions that may be the culprit for the pain you are feeling:
Arthritis - Arthritis is a very common condition that affects approximately 53 million Americans. In fact, according to the Arthritis Foundation, it is the most common form of disability in the United States. There are many different forms of arthritis, but it is typically caused by repetitive motions or an injury that impacts the cartilage in the joints of the elbow, wrist, or hand. Occupational therapy helps to improve joint motion, reduce inflammation, and strengthen the surrounding supportive muscles.
Elbow Bursitis - At the end of the elbow is a fluid-filled sac called the “bursa” that serves as a cushion to the elbow bone, or “ulna.” When that bursa is compressed due to an injury or repetitive motion, it can lead to pain and swelling. Because of this, it is common to see the condition in athletes and students.
Tennis Elbow & Golfer’s Elbow - Tennis elbow refers to pain on the lateral or outside aspect of the elbow, whereas golfer’s elbow refers to pain on the medial or inside aspect of the elbow. Both of these injuries are a result of repetitive use injuries, and can be attributed to a variety of different tasks, not just the sports they are named after. Physical therapy is the best treatment for either of these conditions, because it restores the underlying joint and soft tissue limitations, that are causing strain to the tendons, and reduces the inflammation quite rapidly.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) - Carpal tunnel syndrome impacts approximately 5% of all Americans, according to the American Physical Therapy Association. The main job of the carpal tunnel is to protect the median nerve on the inside of your wrist, in addition to the tendons you use to bend the fingers. However, it is possible for this tunnel to become constricted, and when it does, nerve compression can result, leading to a variety of symptoms, such as numbness and tingling to the thumb, 1st and 2nd fingers. In addition pain to the wrist, hand as well as swelling to the hand and fingers is even possible. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) can be caused by an injury or by repetitive job-related use, such as assembly-line work, keyboard-heavy work, or driving heavy machinery.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome - Cubital tunnel syndrome is another common form of nerve compression damage that can lead to elbow, wrist, and hand pain. It is caused by repetitive pressure on the ulnar nerve, which is located inside of the elbow and is known as your “funny bone.” When pressure is put on the cubital tunnel and surrounding nerves, it can cause pain, numbness, and tingling, especially to the ring and pinky fingers.
Strains/Sprains - Strains and sprains to the elbow, wrist, or hand can also result in pain. Strains refer to muscle or tendon injuries, whereas sprains refer more to the ligaments, which connect bone to bone. These injuries typically occur from quick overstretching of the ligaments or tendons, such as a fall on an outstretched arm, or catching something heavy.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms caused by the conditions above, or if you have persistent pain that won’t seem to go away, call or email as soon as possible for a consultation.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
Whatever the cause of your elbow, wrist, or hand pain may be, physical therapy can help you. Our advanced treatments at MAXX Physical Therapy can help relieve your pain, restore your range of motion, and get you back to living your normal life. In many cases, physical therapy treatments can even help you eliminate the need for harmful painkillers or invasive surgical procedures for nerve-damaging conditions like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Our physical therapists create a personalized treatment plan unique to the specific needs of your condition. This may include any combination of specialized treatments, such as manual therapy, pain and inflammation-reducing modalities, and specific therapeutic exercises to restore strength and pain-free motion.
Don’t let elbow, wrist, or hand pain reduce your quality of life any longer! If you are looking for a Lake Charles occupational therapist, contact our office to request a FREE Pain Assessment or schedule an appointment. We will be happy to get you back to living a healthy, pain-free and physically active life!