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Hand Pain and Hand Therapy


Hand Pain can be treated successfully with the help of a Certified Hand Therapist.  Causes of hand injury and hand pain can vary greatly, from computer use to Osteoarthritis, from a wrist fracture or finger fracture to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The extensive experience and qualifications offered by a Certified Hand Therapist or a CHT will help you address your hand problem with the expertise your hands require.

For example, Hand Numbness can come from an undetected wrist injury, forearm muscle tightness, lingering shoulder pain and stiffness,  even neck stiffness.  A Hand  Therapists can  help you identify what the source is and then help you practice specific exercises for the neck, shoulder, arm and hand that resolve the problem.  A Certified Hand Therapist can also help you identify why the problem may have started in the first place and make specific plans for you to minimize the chances that the problem will return.

Thumb Pain, doesn’t just come from “aging”.    Thumb Pain can arise from specific  muscle weakness in the palm or forearm, tendon irritation or tendinitis at the wrist,  joint irritation of the deep wrist bones, or even nerve compression and muscle tension in the forearm and shoulder.  All of these problems can be solved or at least improved through careful evaluation and detailed treatment. Finally, as with all conditions, good Hand Therapy includes education.  Education often involves learning about equipment that’s available to help around the house or at work, reducing pain by using your hand in ergonomic ways that protect joints and tendons from irritation, and learning how to pace yourself so proper rest and self care can take place.

What is Hand Therapy (from the ASHT.org website)

ASHT’s Definition of Hand Therapy:

“Hand therapy is the art and science of rehabilitation of the upper extremity of the human body. Hand therapists are occupational therapists or physical therapists who, through extra training and experience, have specialized knowledge of upper extremity function. Using specialized skills in assessment and treatment, hand therapists work with their clients to prevent injury or impairment, restore functional activity, and enhance participation in daily life.” *

*Adapted from the Hand Therapy Certification Commission

What is a Hand Therapist?

A hand therapist is an occupational therapist or physical therapist who, through advanced study and experience, specializes in treating individuals with conditions affecting the hands and upper extremity. A hand specialist may also have advanced certification as a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT).

What does a Hand Therapist provide?

A qualified hand therapist can evaluate and treat any problem relative to the upper extremities. The hand therapist can effectively treat and rehabilitate the patient through postoperative rehabilitation, preventative, non-operative, or conservative treatment, or industry consultation. The therapist works closely with physician and patient to provide a continuum of care. This often starts within days of the injury or surgery right through to the patient’s return to work and/or a productive lifestyle.

Postoperative Rehabilitation

  • Management of open or sutured wounds (prevention of infection and assistance in healing)
  • Control of hypertrophic (raised and/or swollen) or hypersensitive scars
  • Reduction of swelling

Preventative, Non-operative, or Conservative Treatment

  • Management of acute or chronic pain
  • Desensitization following nerve injury or trauma
  • Sensory re-education after nerve injury
  • Design and implementation of exercise programs to increase motion, dexterity and/or strength
  • Splint fabrication for prevention or corrections of injury
  • Training in the performance of daily life skills through adapted methods and equipment
  • Conditioning prior to returning to work

Industry Consultation

Hand therapists may consult with various industries establishing preventive programs for workers with cumulative trauma disorders. Hand therapists recommend modifications of workstations and alternative work methods to help ensure healthy work styles of all employees.

Why use a Hand Therapy specialist?

  • Accurate assessments, immediate care, and effective treatment reduce treatment time.
  • The continuum of care eliminates the need for multiple medical providers.
  • Faster recovery results in decreased medical costs.
  • Resulting functional outcomes ensure a faster return to work and productive lifestyle.
  • Hand therapists – both occupational and physical therapists – enhance the skills of others to provide the most comprehensive care for their patients.

Common Hand Conditions

ASHT provides a collection of Patient Education brochures listed below. With a strong interest in helping their patients, additional brochures will be created and posted periodically.
De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
Digital Amputation
Distal Radius
Dupuytren’s Disease
Flexor Tendon Injuries
Information on Splints
Phalangeal Fractures
Trigger Finger

Under Development ~ coming soon
Arthritis
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
General Post-Operative Guidelines
General Symptom Management/Postural Guidelines
Joint Protection
Lateral and Medial Epicondylitis
Splinting Dos and Don’ts

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