Understanding conditions that cause hand pain

The hand is perfectly designed to allow us to perform “fine motor skills” — activities that require a lot of co-ordination. Think about the level of control required to play the guitar or bowl the perfect leg spinner, this is made possible by the 19 bones and 19 joints and lots of little muscles, nerves and ligaments that form the hand!

The palms and underside of the fingers have little ridges called prints, which improve sensation and grip. It is no wonder an injury to this area not only really hurts, but can have a big impact on your daily life.

It is important to remember that the hand works in co-ordination with the rest of the arm, so injuries to the areas like the wrist can have a great impact of the function of the hand.

 

Now, let’s explore some injuries associated with the hand.

 

Finger (proximal interphalangeal joint) dislocations

Dislocations of the finger are commonly associated with sports related injuries and occur when a sudden force impacts the end of the finger, often seen in ball related sports.

Often, management focuses on assisting healing of the injured soft tissues (ligaments and tendon) and can include period of bracing and immobilisation, followed by rehabilitation to help regain full range of motion and strength.

 

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is caused by the gradual wear and tear of the protective cartilage in the body (tough flexible tissue that cover joints surfaces acts as a shock absorber).
Symptoms of arthritis include stiffness, swelling and pain, though usually it is mild. It is a common misconception that nothing can be done to help, but we know that the amount of wear and tear on a scan is a poor indicator of pain and function. Being afraid to use the joint and a loss of strength is a greater indicator for pain and loss of function.

How can you help your pain?

  • Getting strong: strengthen muscle weaknesses in the hand and wrist as well as the muscles throughout the upper limb to help balance the forces being placed onto the joint
  • Education: learn how to protect the joint and avoid activities that cause pain and irritation, as well as improve technique when performing repetitive or a heavy load onto the hand
  • Splinting: splinting or bracing can further help in certain situations to protect the joint, particularly when performing activities that irritate or are the cause of the pain

 

Trigger Finger

This is a condition where there is a mechanical restriction preventing the smooth sliding and gliding of the hand tendons from moving the fingers into a fist and then straightening.
A nodule in the palm, which prevents the tendon from straightening the finger, causes the restriction and the friction can cause inflammation and thickening of the tendon, not only resulting in reduced mobility, but also pain. Stretches, exercises and splinting can help manage pain early on, but often, some surgical intervention may be required.

 

Life Ready Physio — comprehensive, personalised physiotherapy for pain-free living

With close to twenty locations across Australia, Life Ready Physio is a physiotherapy and Pilates group with a passion for giving you the mobility to live your very best life. With physiotherapy services including injury management, Clinical Pilates, gym rehabilitation, hydrotherapy, exercise physiology and remedial massage therapy, we aim to raise the bar of the healthcare industry, while bringing you the pleasure of a pain-free lifestyle.

Should you have a hand injury or anything else that requires professional treatment, please get in touch to make a booking. Or, if you’d like some more information on the services we offer, click here.

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