The wrist is possibly the most complex joint in the body because it has to convey and coordinate movement and sensation to all parts of the hand, while also performing a movement function itself. And since so much goes on in it, it’s especially prone to long term injuries brought on by overuse or harmful use. Two of the most common are Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and wrist tendonitis. While both of these conditions can get so bad they may require surgery, physical therapy can help prevent them from getting that bad, and can also help in recovering from surgery when it is necessary.
What are these conditions?
CTS is stress and inflammation of the carpal tunnel, which is a loop of bones and ligatures that protect the tendons of the fingers. Putting too much pressure on the wrist, or holding it too long in bad positions, especially in work that involves a lot of vibration, can cause the condition, and the symptoms include burning or tingling feelings in the hand, numbness, and difficulties with grip.
Wrist tendonitis is inflammation of the tendons themselves that run through the wrist and through the carpal tunnel. It can be caused by many of the same things as CTS, like exercise and activities without stretching first, especially if they involve repetitive wrist and hand motions. The symptoms can include pain in the wrist and hand, especially when the wrist is stretched or strained, as well as swelling or stiffness in the wrist, and tenderness to the touch.
Doctors diagnose these conditions by testing range of motion, pain in certain areas, grip strength, and sometimes running x-rays.
How can physical therapy help?
A physical therapist will assess your current condition and your goals and build a therapy routine to get you there. Your routine might include
- Posture and movement correction – since these get to the root of how the condition arose. A problem in the wrist can sometimes be traced all to way to standing or sitting posture, and so be linked to back problems as well.
- Strengthening exercises – the condition might have limited the use of your arm and caused a loss of muscle strength.
- Stretching and range of motion exercises – these loosen up the joints and also tell you how much progress you’ve made.
- Manual therapy – joint movements and massaging can help loosen up areas too.
- Heat/cold treatments for pain relief.
- Equipment or clothing – a night splint while you sleep, or anti-vibration or compression gloves
In addition to the physical parts of therapy, a therapist can also educate you on relevant information about your condition, its causes, and how to take care of yourself so it won’t come back in the future. This may even involve a visit to your workplace so a therapist can see how you spend most of the day and if it is causing problems.
If you’re suffering any of the symptoms associated with these wrist conditions, Haymarket Physical Therapy can help. Call us for a free consultation at one of our clinics in Prince William or Fauquier Counties.
Haymarket, Va.: (703) 372-9695
Bealeton, Va.: (571) 281-4293
Bristow, Va.: (571) 549-3677