Bones, joints, ligaments and muscles all suffer from some injury or strain throughout our lifetime. The hand and wrist are one of the most common areas where pain occurs in the general population based on the types of repetitive motions we perform with our hands and the range of the movement we have in the wrist with its set of unfused bones. If we think about the time we spend using our wrists and hands to open doors, push and pull things, pick up and throw, in addition to the hours spent typing and driving, we can gauge the constant activity in this area where the hand and wrist meet.
Our clients at In Motion O.C. suffer from a variety of pain types associated with their hands and wrists. Much of the pain causes them to reduce activity in their hands and wrists over time as much as possible, but this isn’t an easy task nor is it to their benefit. During our physical therapy sessions in our innovative dual treatment facility, we focus on understanding the pain we feel, how to reduce this pain with the right movements, increase that range of motion and how to avoid injury. Not only do we rejuvenate the muscles, tendons and joint function as it supports movement, but we enhance performance so you can participate in activities you weren’t able to previously in your life. Physical therapy and fitness training aren’t just about pain management they’re about changing lives and brightening the quality for every client that chooses to work smarter in the process.
As we focus on the types of pain, causes and options for pain reduction at In Motion O.C., we will go through the structure of both the hand and wrist. Fully grasping the structure of our hands and wrists will help you frame the activities you perform and allow you to reference the origin of any discomfort. Your therapist will go through your pain symptoms with you and decide whether or not you require additional therapeutic exercises to regain flexibility and function in this area once the cause of pain is found.
Hand and Wrist Anatomy
Your forearm has two rotating bones called the radius and the ulna that allow you to move your wrist in a twisting motion and rotate the hand. The wrist is at the base of the hand connecting it to the forearm by carpals, eight tiny little bones that resemble pebbles. Broken into several sections of bone, the hand is composed of metacarpals and phalanges (proximal, middle and distal) that make up our fingers. Articular cartilage covers the ends of every bone as it sits against another to protect it from wear and tear; in between these bones are joints on either side of the carpals as they connect to the radius and ulna as well as the metacarpals. In between each bone in the phalanges are joints as well. The function of the joints again is to offer padding and shock absorption during movement.
To wrap these bones and hold them together are ligaments made of cartilaginous fibers. These ligaments cover the carpals, creating a joint capsule; the joint capsule tethers the metacarpals for stability and support. Extending and spreading our fingers requires an additional larger ligament called the transverse ligament which stretches across the wrist; this ligament also wraps around the tendons extending from the arm muscles, connecting to each finger as they expand and contract to grasp and perform tasks. Tendons and muscles attached to the hand and wrist are prefaced with adductor or flexor names depending on the action they serve. Included in these tissues are complex nerves that run through the wrist and hand to signal movement. Our thumb, for example, is opposable, meaning its action is different than the rest of your fingers so you can grasp and open doors.
When we experience pain in the wrists and hands, performing our daily tasks is problematic; we use our hands for flexibility to manipulate their position from the wrists. Without proper exercise, the muscles here and fluid-filled joints suffer from strain or fracture. Uncommon conditions such as infection and cancerous tissues can add pressure or irritation here. We will discuss the common causes of hand and wrist pain, how to reduce your pain and ways you can increase your range of motion to reduce future damage.
Common Causes of Wrist and Hand Pain
What can you do about your hand and wrist pain?
Before you decide to see a doctor, if the pain is mild enough and has only been present for a short time, you can treat this discomfort and stiffness with a few enhanced physical therapy exercises. We have created a few videos below to get you started. In addition to these exercises, which can warm the muscles, increase your circulation and help to rebuilt broken down muscle fibers, you should rest the area. Cold packs can calm any swelling from nerve pinching, tendonitis or muscle strain. We recommend picking up a brace or wrapping the hand and wrist for a couple of days as you rest before moving on to exercise. Ibuprofen or your choice of anti-inflammatory is an excellent way to promote healing.
For more information on the types of pain in your hand and wrist area, please call In Motion O.C. today at 949-861-8600.