May 21, 2012
Have you been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, repetitive strain injury, or are you having hand or wrist pain? Here is a roadmap to treating these conditions. The first step in healing is recognizing that you have a problem. Some questions you will want to ask yourself are:
- Do your hands hurt after using the computer?
- Do you find yourself dropping more items?
- Are you constantly re-tying your shoelaces?
- Do your hands hurt when you floss your teeth?
- Are your hands or wrist hurting when you wake up, after driving, after playing videogames or using your smartphone?
Each of these problems often falls into what we call overuse injuries. Overuse injuries are slowly debilitating conditions that are the product of years of repetitive actions that eventually take a toll of your body. Studies have shown that there is no silver bullet or quick fix for these conditions.
The first step to recovery from these types of injuries is to find a competent hand surgeon, osteopathic physician or neurosurgeon to get a proper diagnosis. Once you have a diagnosis from your physician, make sure you get a prescription for hand therapy. Pain medications can have adverse effects, so take these with caution and only as prescribed by your physician. Surgery is a last resort and may only give temporary relief. From hand therapists, occupational therapists and physical therapists you will learn techniques including hot and cold transition baths, paraffin wax treatments, icing, wearing braces, wearing gloves, strengthening exercises, and ergonomics. These are far more useful than creating a dependence on medications. Keeping a log book or diary, documenting your pain and what activities you participated in that day that caused pain or lessened the pain is a helpful step to take. Hand message and relaxing activities come into play to help further your recovery process. Every therapist has a different approach, and some may work better than others for you, so do not hesitate to try a different hand therapist if the one you are using is not helping. Education is key in treating these overuse injuries. Reading up on carpal tunnel and repetitive strain type injuries can give you the tools to help combat and eliminate your pain on a daily basis. An educated patient will recover quicker. Carpal tunnel syndrome and hand pain recovery will require changes in your life such as how you drive, bike, or even carry handbags or groceries. Any use of your hands will need to be examined and optimized to your new normal. Work changes such as computer ergonomics, different keyboards, input devices, chairs, desks, and other elements that require attention are important to prevent further damage. Electronic devices such as smartphones, iPods, gaming consoles, and computers can contribute to your hand pain. Touchscreens with their swiping gestures can cause undue hardship. Ergonomics and usage reduction are a must. Physician care, hand therapy, lifestyle, and work station changes are a collaborative approach to overuse injuries. All areas must be considered to have successful recovery without reoccurrence. Experts at The Compass Rehabilitation Center can review your concerns and options with you.