Common Conditions of the Hand, Wrist, Arm and Elbow
The Hand Management Center at St. Dominic Hospital is dedicated to the healing of your hand, wrist, arm or elbow condition. We know that pain can keep you from enjoying life to the fullest, so we have compiled a guide to help you navigate through the various symptoms you might be experiencing.
Basal Joint Arthritis
Basal Joint Arthritis, which affects the joint at the base of the thumb, occurs as a result of wear and tear on the joint. It is more likely to occur if you have fractured or injured your thumb. Repeatedly gripping, twisting or turning objects with the thumb and fingers may make arthritis worse.
The most common symptom is experiencing pain in the lower part of the thumb. The joint may swell, and the thumb my become stiff or deformed.
St. Dominic's Hand Management Center will show you exercises to help strengthen the muscles and make the joints more flexible to help you regain the use of your thumb.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome affects the wrist and hand, causing tingling and numbness that can make simple tasks hard to do. At first, symptoms may wake you up at night, but then they will occur during your daily routines. Your symptoms may become more severe over time.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the narrow space in the wrist that is surround by bone and ligament becomes compressed.
For the safest healing of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, you should limit hand and wrist use and keep your hand raised above heart level to reduce swelling. St. Dominic's certified hand therapists can show you hand exercises that will help you ease your wrist and hand back into action.
De Quervain's Tenosynovitis
De Quervain's Tenosynovitis is an inflammation of the tissue on the thumb side of the wrist causing pain. The condition is often caused by making the same motions repeatedly, which causes the tendons to become irritated.
The most common symptom is pain on the thumb side of the wrist. You may feel pain during pinching or grasping activities, and the thumb may "catch" when you bend it. You may also feel a small knot on the thumb side of the wrist.
St. Dominic's Hand Management certified hand therapists can help you with exercises that will allow you to regain strength and movement in your thumb.
Dupuytren's Contracture is a disease that can lead to limited use of your hand. It is a thickening of the fibrous tissue layer underneath the skin of the palm and fingers. While it is often painless, it can make it difficult to straighten the fingers.
Dupuytren's signs and symptoms begin slowly and can steadily progress. But, they can also be stopped before hand use is limited. Symptoms include a hard lump forming on your palm, the inability to place your palm flat on a surface, scar-like hands forming across your palm, fingers bent toward your palm, or even hand pain.
The only way to treat Dupuytren's is surgery, but it is not a cure. To find a hand surgeon in the area, visit the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.
At St. Dominic's Hand Management Center, therapists can help you through recovery after your surgery. By doing exercises and wearing a splint if needed, you can speed up your recovery time.
Flexor Tendon Lacerations/Cuts
A flexor tendon injury is most often caused by a deep cut on the palm side of the hand, wrist or finger. Or, it can also occur when a finger is jerked extremely hard.
If a flexor tendon is cut all the way through, the finger can no longer bend on its own, and if nerves are also injured, the finger may be numb.
If the tendon is cut completely, you will need surgery to rejoin the two ends. You will then need to follow a specific exercise program recommended by a hand therapist to regain movement in your finger. As the tendon heals, you will slowly regain strength and movement.
A ganglion cyst is a firm, fluid-filled lump which can appear on the front of back of the wrist or base of the finger. The cysts can range in size, and do not spread or become cancerous. They can occur after an injury, but their cause is often unknown.
They occur when the tissue, which produces a thick fluid to keep the joints and tendons moving, balloons out from the joint or tendon to form a cyst. The cyst then fills with the fluid and appears as a visible lump.
A ganglion cyst can be painful when it first occurs, and constantly using your hand or wrist can enlarge the cyst and make it hurt worse.
St. Dominic's hand therapists can teach you exercises to mobilize your joints which will reduce swelling and discomfort.
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), also known as complex regional pain syndrome type I CRPS I), is a painful nerve syndrome that occurs in the hand or foot after an injury. If left untreated, the pain or weakness caused by RSD can limit use of the injured area.
Symptoms include new, severe pain in the original injured area. That pain may spread through the injured limb and then other symptoms may appear, such as stiffening, loss of strength and a swollen, reddish look.
The first way to treat RSD is through physical or occupational therapy. St. Dominic's Hand Management Center therapists can help you improve movement, build strength and reduce pain.
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is an inflammation around the bony knob on the outer side of the elbow. It occurs when the tissue that attaches the muscles to the bone becomes irritated.
Tennis elbow can be caused by doing anything that involves extending your wrist or rotating your forearm. As you age, this tissue may become irritated more easily.
Symptoms of tennis elbow include pain on the outer side of the elbow and down the forearm. The pain may be frequent or it may occur only when you lift things. The elbow may also swell, get red or feel warm to the touch.
St. Dominic's Hand Management Center, certified hand therapists treat tennis elbow through exercise and therapy programs which gently stretch and strengthen the muscles around your elbow.
Trigger Finger, also known as tenosynovitis, is an inflammation of tissue inside your finger or thumb. This swelling of tendons and membranes makes it difficult to straighten the afflicted finger.
Trigger Finger is caused by the repeated use of hand held tools which can irritate the tendons. It can also be caused by arthritis or an injury to the palm, but often the cause is unknown.
The first sign of trigger finger may be pain where the finger or thumb joins the palm. There may be swelling, and you may notice that the finger may start to catch when you try to straighten it. When the locked tendon releases, the finger will jump as if you were releasing the trigger of a gun.
St. Dominic's certified hand therapists can provide a treatment and an after-surgery plan of strength and range of motion exercises to allow the tendon to move more freely.