Why Hand Therapy Is Important
Hand therapy is a specialty practice area of occupational therapy that is offered at ProFysio. However, it can also be a component of physical therapy. If it is implemented for occupational therapy purposes, this means that it is helping patients carry out daily activities. If it is implemented for physical therapy purposes, that means it is working to improve a patient’s mobility and decrease their pain levels. The purpose of hand therapy is to treat orthopedic-based upper-extremity conditions that optimize functional use of the hand and arm. It focuses on the shoulder, hands, and the joints and muscles in between.
It takes an extensive level of education in order to become a board-certified hand therapist, which we are proud to have on our team at ProFysio. The reason the process is extensive is because they must have a keen understanding of occupational and physical therapy, and undergo many hours of practice in upper extremity work.
Your hands are a vital part of your everyday life, and if you are having issues with your hands, it can be difficult to perform many of your necessary functions. Our hand therapists help patients find healing from a variety of conditions and traumas of the arms, hands, and fingers. Some of the treatments we offer at our clinic for hand therapy include:
- Manual therapy
Manual therapy is a type of physical therapy that deals with musculoskeletal injury and entails techniques that help a patient restore their mobility as well as reduce pain and swelling.
- Therapeutic exercises
We can create a treatment plan with specific therapeutic exercises for your individual condition. Some of these exercises might include the composite finger flexion, which involves both long flexors and the intrinsic hand muscles and stretches all of the fingers. Another popular hand therapy exercise is a tendon glide, which involves a series of hand and wrist movements that improve the flow of the tendon through the carpal tunnel area. A tenodesis grasp and release, on the other hand, involves the grasp and release of the wrist to open and close the fingers.
- Therapeutic massage
A therapeutic hand massage can have great benefits for your health. For a patient, the benefits of a hand massage can include reduced hand pain, decreased anxiety, elevated mood, improved sleep patterns, and stronger grip strength. Research has also shown that regular massages can help lower blood pressure and overall stress levels.
- Pain management
One of the most effective methods when it comes to managing pain of the upper extremities is typically joint immobilization. This can be achieved through a removable splint that provides rest, prevents irritation, and alleviates pain levels that come with overuse of the muscles surrounding the hands. Another method we might recommend is activity modification until the patient is able to return to their regular routine without pain. The way this plays out will depend on the individual’s lifestyle, but it might involve using adaptive equipment and using larger handles around devices that cause pain when holding.
- Scar management
When the body responds to an injury or surgery, it is normal to form scars in order to heal the affected area. However, when it comes to the hands, scars can become red and raised, and then can also be sensitive and restrict an individual’s mobility. Some of the treatments we can offer for scar management include a scar massage that can help alleviate sensitivity and produce a more functional scar. There are also early controlled exercise programs that can work to keep tendons moving under the skin. The exact treatment that we recommend will depend on the severity of your individual hand scar as well as your personal goals.
- Wound care
The primary goal of wound care is to prevent infection and maintain the integrity of the epidermis. We will also aim to maintain moisture in the are to prevent the areas in the hand from drying. However, it is essential to prevent a wound from becoming overly wet. This can cause maceration and degradation of the area. Some of the factors we consider when it comes to wound care of the hands are excessive granulation, draining, and packing a wound. Ultimately, we will work to treat the issue at the source and help the patient reach healing as quickly as possible.
The purpose of a split is to support, immobilize, and protect the arm and hand. The goal of a splint is to assist and increase range of motion for a patient. We can create splints specifically designed for our patients for their condition, and we will work directly with patients throughout the entire process to help them meet their healing goals.
Fluidotherapy is a great way for patients to find pain relief in the upper and lower extremities. Patients often seek it out when they have localized hand and wrist pain due to repetitive activities. It allows the control of dry heat temperatures, creating superficial heat that increases blood circulation and helps relieve pain in the area.
- Heat therapy
Moist heat is often used on injured or painful parts of the body before or after exercises and stretches. The purpose of heat therapy is to improve mobility, prevent stiffness, and improve ease of mobility. For patients who have chronic aches and pains in their hands, heat therapy is a great way to alleviate hand pain, relax the soft tissues, increase circulation, and stimulate the production of joint fluid.
Cryotherapy is a go-to method for freezing and removing abnormal tissues. As far as its application in hand care, it is most often used to treat skin conditions like warts and skin tags. It works by reducing blood flow to the area, which reduces inflammation and painful swelling and decreasing nerve activity in a temporary manner. During the process, liquid nitrogen is applied locally and destroys abnormal cells.
- EPAT Therapy
EPAT therapy stands for extracorporeal pulse activation technology, and it is a modern, noninvasive, effective pain treatment method. We perform this treatment by applying a gel to the area, which then allows acoustic sound waves to be released and moved over the treatment area. After the treatment, many patients report immediate relief, mobility restoration, see improvement in their quality of life.
If you are suffering from pain in your hands and upper extremities and believe you could benefit from our services, call us today at (732) 812-5200 or contact us online.