Types and the treatment of wrist & hand problems

Appreciating that hand and wrist problems are not very common, it is important to have early diagnosis and management of injuries in these areas as, obviously, your hands and wrists are key in enabling you to function normally in your day-to-day life.

Causes of hand and wrist pain include:

  • Tendinopathies – presenting as pain and swelling, tendionpathies are due to inflammation of the tendon sheaths that surround the tendons which attach muscles to bone (usually the muscle body will be in the forearm and the tendon will run down to attach to the fingers). An example of this is tendonitis of the thumb tendon sheaths, called De Quervain’s Syndrome, which results in pain, swelling and difficultly gripping.
  • Ligamentous strains and sprains – normally occurs in the wrist – often when you put out your hand to stop a fall. The ligaments attach bone to bone, for example the small carpal bones in the wrist to each other or to the metacarpals or forearm bones. When they are strained, swelling, bruising and loss of range of movement results. RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) can be applied initially but it’s worth getting the area treated to prevent further complications and ensure that there is a return to full functionality.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome – occurring fairly often in pregnancy and often a common cause of wrist pain generally, this syndrome is due to compression of the median nerve as it travels through the wrist to the hand. Swelling in the wrist area can create this compression and give you symptoms of burning, numbness, pain or tingling in your hand and or wrist (particularly at night) and you may have difficulty grasping things. It is often associated with repetitive activities such as typing or computer use, sewing or writing. A wrist support or splint is often recommended – especially at night when the pain can be worse. Surgery can be required in severe cases.
  • Arthritis – causing pain and swelling, arthritis is another common cause of wrist and hand pain more commonly in older patients.

In all cases, osteopathy can help to alleviate the symptoms by treating locally in the hand and wrist area using soft tissue and joint mobilisation techniques. It is also important to look further up at the functionality of the arm, shoulder, neck and upper back to ensure that the hand and wrist are not being compromised by poor mechanics and force transference or, indeed, that the problem is not originating from one of these areas. Advice can be given as to splinting or exercising the hand/wrist as appropriate.

Click here to read my blog article on wrist and hand pain.

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