Hand injuries come with unique challenges. They can be painful and extremely inconvenient, affecting your quality of life. Hand therapy exercises focus on restoring hand function and expediting recovery after hand surgery.
What Are Common Hand Conditions Treated by Hand Therapy?
Hand therapy may be recommended for all kinds of hand injuries. A hand therapist will evaluate and treat patients following hand or wrist conditions, hand surgery, or injuries. Hand therapy can help an individual return to their highest level of function and also helps decrease immobility and pain. Most of these problems are initially caused by specific hand conditions that may include:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – the condition results in finger tingling and numbness. A hand therapist works with the patient to help improve function and mobility while decreasing pain. Hand therapy exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome may help achieve equal or sometimes more successful outcomes than hand surgery.
- Trigger Finger – the condition affects movement in the tendons after the fingers or thumb bend towards the palm. Trigger finger causes pain when stretching the affected fingers, and you may also hear a clicking sound when the fingers bend. Hand therapy exercises for trigger finger help reduce inflammation after surgery by using gentle range of motion exercises.
- Dupuytren’s Disease – the disorder affects mostly the ring and small fingers on one or both hands. Surgery is usually the best course of treatment for severe Dupuytren’s contracture. Hand therapy exercises after surgery help restore strength and mobility while aiding recovery.
- Cubital Tunnel Syndrome – this is the irritation and compression of the ulnar nerve inside the elbow tunnel. Cubital tunnel syndrome causes pain in the elbow area and may result in loss of motion and dexterity. Hand therapy excises help restore motion and strength and speed up recovery.
Your doctor may also recommend hand therapy exercises in case of finger amputation, fractures, joint replacements or after nerve and tendon repair surgery. The goal of hand exercises is usually to restore lost function, reduce pain, speed up recovery and increase your range of motion.
What are Common Types of Hand Therapy Exercises?
Depending on the condition being treated, your hand therapist may recommend the following hand exercises.
Wrist Movement Exercises
The bones of the carpals of the wrist are located in the hand. They make it possible for the hand to change locations through specific wrist movements like side to side, up and down and rotationally. Some hand conditions can make it impossible to move the wrist because of the pain. To rehabilitate the hand, your hand therapist may perform special wrist exercises that include moving the wrists and the fingers. Since the wrist merges right into the hand, wrist conditions can also change how your fingers move.
Conditions like Dupuytren’s contracture, carpal tunnel and trigger finger can cause the fingers to bend awkwardly, making it difficult to grip things. This results in the loss of fine motor skills like writing and using utensils. Hand therapy exercises help stretch the tight areas and restore muscle strength and the precise movement of the fingers.
Wrist Stretching Exercises
Since the wrists play a significant role in the hand’s abilities, hand therapy excises begin with the restoration of the flexibility and strength of the wrist. This is only possible with wrist stretching exercises where the hand therapist will try to flex the wrist downwards so your fingers point towards the floor. They may also extend the wrist upwards, so the fingers face up to the ceiling. Wrist stretching exercises may also involve small side-to-side movements of the wrist and up and down movements of the palm. The goal is to restore flexibility and can be used with or without weights for strength restoration.
Range Of Motion Exercises
Hand therapy exercises may also incorporate precise finger movements. The movements make it possible to hold onto objects and execute fine motor skills. You can achieve this by running the fingers as a unit or individually through a specific range of motions that may include opening and flexing the fingers into a fist.
What about hand therapy exercises at home? Your hand therapist may encourage you to perform some exercises at home to help speed up recovery. Hand exercises at home can include stacking up coins, playing board games, putting together some puzzles, or using a hand therapy ball.
Book an appointment today to learn more about hand therapy.
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