Wrist and Hand Pain

Wrist and hand pain is an extremely common complaint that has many causes. Because we use our arms for so many common activities, wrist or hand pain can cause significant problems. In order to effectively treat wrist and hand pain, the cause of the problem must be identified.

Wrist Arthritis

Wrist arthritis is a problem that can cause pain and difficulty performing normal activities. There are several causes of wrist arthritis, and fortunately there are a number of treatments for wrist arthritis. Physiotherapy can help with strengthening the wrist muscles to provide increased support to the joint and help prevent further degeneration.

Wrist Tendonitis

Wrist tendonitis, a common problem that can cause pain and swelling around the wrist. Wrist tendonitis is due to inflammation of the tendon sheath. Treatment of wrist tendonitis usually resolves with physiotherapy and does not require surgery. Rest from aggravating activities plays an important role in recovery as does strengthening and stretching exercises.

Wrist Sprain

Wrist sprains are common injuries to the ligaments around the wrist joint. Wrist sprains can cause problems by limiting the use of our hands particularly when putting weight the hands. Strengthening the muscles around the wrist and supportive strapping / braces can be a significant help in recovery from wrist sprains.

Ganglion Cyst

Wrist ganglion cysts are lumps around the wrist and hand. Wrist ganglion cysts are benign collections of synovial fluid that arise either from a joint or tendon sheath.

Colles’ Fracture

A Colles’ fracture is a fracture of the radius and the ulna. The break usually occurs near the wrist and is typically caused by falling on an outstretched arm with the palm facing down. The fracture has been noted to look like a dinner-fork handle, as the forearm has a noticeable upward curve or dog-leg shape.

The first treatment is for the fracture to be reduced or realigned. The wrist is then placed in a cast. The cast may immobilize the elbow as well as the wrist since many of the muscles for the wrist also attach near the elbow. With both the elbow and wrist immobilized, the chance of the broken bones moving is much less. Our physiotherapists are experienced in application of casts and can offer fibreglass casts which are waterproof and also lighter than conventional plaster casts.

After the cast is removed, rehabilitation starts with regaining range of motion. This is done with specific therapeutic exercises and often manual therapy or stretching with our physiotherapist. As you regain your range, the exercises have more emphasis on strength and endurance. Remember, the exercises will be for the elbow and hand as well as the wrist since these areas will have weakened during the wearing of the cast.

Wrist Fractures

A wrist fracture occurs when you break one or more of the 8 bones comprising the wrist. Usually a fracture occurs with a trauma such as an automobile accident, being struck with something heavy, or falling on your hand or wrist.

Symptoms of a fracture include pain, swelling and/or an inability to move the wrist.  X-ray is the main method used to determine which bones are fractured and the extent of the injury. Most fractures heal in about 6 weeks, although many factors such as age, osteoporosis and diabetes can affect the time required to heal.

After the diagnosis of a fracture, our physiotherapist will place your wrist in a cast or splint to immobilize it for healing.

After the cast is removed, several factors will affect your ability to regain use of your wrist. Because the wrist has been immobilized, the muscles will be weakened. The wrist joint may be stiff and difficult to move. Some swelling and pain may also remain. Modalities such as heat or ice may help to resolve some of these problems. Your health professional will guide you in which of these to use.

Rehabilitation involves first regaining range of motion through various exercises. Our physiotherapist may begin with passive range of motion and stretching, as well as some other manual techniques to help mobilize the wrist joint. These exercises and other techniques may involve the fingers and elbow as well, since it is common to lose range in these areas also.

After your range has improved, exercises will be prescribed to help you regain strength in your wrist, elbow and fingers. In addition to performing exercises, you may be instructed to participate in some activities to help regain more function. These activities are designed to help you regain coordination, dexterity and skill, and may include shuffling cards or picking up marbles.

Fine Form Physiotherapy is a practice you can trust to manage your wrist and hand pain and guide you through recovery back to full function. Call us to make an appointment with our physiotherapists.