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The 3 Most Common Hand Conditions Hand Therapist's Treat

By Apricus Health

18th February 2022

There are few physical tasks we complete without the use of our hands.

A complex and delicate web of bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles, our hands are our most useful tool and our first defence mechanism - meaning the most common hand conditions are often the result of overuse or trauma.

Apricus Health is a leading provider of hand therapy in North Queensland. Our team of accredited hand therapists have over 20 years of experience providing care for common hand and wrist conditions across Townsville, Ingham, Ayr and Charters Towers.

We pursue excellence and make sure to keep up-to-date with the latest advances in hand therapy, surgery, and occupational therapy technology. Our team work closely with the best consultant orthopaedic surgeons, hand surgeons, rheumatologists, sports physiotherapists, and local GPs.

Within this article, we’ll outline the 3 most common hand conditions we routinely treat, as well as the root causes of these conditions and the best way to regain total hand health.

3 Common Hand Conditions Treated by Hand Therapists 

Let’s start with the most common hand condition we treat: Carpal tunnel syndrome.

  1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful hand condition resulting from the compression of the median nerve where it passes through the carpal tunnel (a passageway in the wrist) into the hand. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include tingling, numbness, and loss of power in the hand and arm. The causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are often multifaceted and can include repetitive hand movements, wrist fractures, pregnancy, or arthritis.

Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome can take a surgical or non-surgical path, depending on how early the condition is diagnosed and how severe the pain has become.

Non-surgical treatment involves specific exercises to keep the tendons and nerves moving freely, wearing a night splint to reduce pressure on the nerve, and activity modification advice to ensure symptoms do not return.

Surgical intervention is only undertaken in severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. It involves a surgeon cutting the transverse carpal ligament to relieve pressure on the median nerve. As the ligament heals, the resulting scar tissue will not exert as much pressure on the median nerve as previously experienced. Post operative hand therapy can assist with scar and swelling management, and increasing movement and strength.

  1. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition affecting the whole hand, including the joints, muscles, cartilage, bone, and ligaments. As we age, the protective layer of cartilage around our bones begins to wear away, and our bones start rubbing together as we move. Bone-on-bone interaction without any cartilage to soften the impact creates joint pain, stiffness, and eventually a loss of alignment as the bone erodes. 

Osteoarthritis impacts 1 in 11 Australians and is one of the most common hand conditions a hand therapist will treat. Treatment is aimed at managing symptoms and reducing pain with exercises, braces for support, heat therapy and joint protection education. Once the pain settles a hand therapist provides guided therapy to regain movement and strength. 

  1. Dislocated Fingers

A dislocated finger can be extremely painful and swollen, often with visible deformation. The leading cause of finger dislocation is blunt trauma during sport, which causes the ligaments in the finger to yield and the bone to slip out of its joint.

Once the bone is back in the joint a hand therapist will often make a splint to immobilise the joint to prevent unwanted movement while the finger heals. Depending on the severity of the dislocation, a splint can be required for up to 6 weeks. Swelling will also be addressed with compression finger sleeves, as often swelling is the cause for long term complications.  Only in severe cases would surgery for a dislocated finger be considered. 

Common Hand Conditions Hand Therapy

If you’re suffering from any of the hand injuries listed above, you must seek professional care from an accredited specialist or hand therapist as soon as possible. Unless very mild, common hand conditions rarely resolve themselves without treatment. Our hands are intricately designed and essential for many everyday tasks; as such, seeking hand therapy is essential to prevent permanent damage from occurring.

If you’re suffering from a hand complaint, don’t suffer alone, our friendly team are ready to help you on your journey back to full hand health. We offer a complimentary discovery call service that allows you to discuss your symptoms with one of our clinicians before making an appointment. We offer this assistance so that you can access professional advice in a timely manner when an injury occurs, giving you the confidence that your hand therapy will provide short term relief and long term management.

Apricus Health have five state-of-the-art clinics conveniently located across Townsville, Ingham, Ayr and Charters Towers. We look forward to seeing you soon!