WHY OUR ELBOWS, WRISTS, AND HANDS ARE IMPORTANT
When you think about it, we use our elbows, wrists, and hands for many things during the day for just normal activities. We use our elbows, wrists, and hands for driving, preparing food, dressing and much more. As a matter of fact, we rely on these upper extremities for daily living. If you’re experiencing pain in your elbows, wrists or hands, your daily function can become very limited.
CAUSES OF ELBOW, WRIST AND HAND PAIN
There are a number of causes for wrist and hand pain, including carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel is a type of hand nerve entrapment. It occurs in the wrists where a nerve and tendons extend from the forearm to the hand. Carpal tunnel causes pressure on the median nerve. Its symptoms include:
- Pain, burning, and numbness in the hand
- Pain in the wrist, which can extend to the elbow
- Swollen hand
- Weakened grip and problems with lifting small items
Cubital tunnel syndrome is a narrowing of the tissue in the elbow, which is comprised of the ulnar nerve. This nerve runs from the shoulder to the wrist. Its symptoms include:
- Tingling and numbness in the ring and pinky fingers
- Weakness in the hands
- Pain in the hands and fingers
Elbow pain is often caused by overuse from sports and repetitive job tasks. Other common causes of elbow include are bursitis, dislocated elbow, golfer’s elbow, osteoarthritis, sprains, strains, arthritis, and tendinitis.
Bursitis occurs when the small, fluid-filled sacs become inflamed. It’s the sacs that cushion the muscles, tendons, and bones near the joints. It’s a painful condition. Osteoarthritis affects about 27 million people in America. It can affect the joints in the elbows, wrists, and hands. The cartilage begins to wear away and bones rub against each other leading to pain when you have osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is also referred to as degenerative arthritis. Tendonitis is a swelling of a tendon. A tendon is a thick fibrous cord that connects muscle to bone. It’s most common in the elbows and wrists. Other names for tendonitis are tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, swimmer shoulder and pitcher’s shoulder.
PHYSICAL THERAPY FOR ELBOW, WRIST AND HAND PAIN
Physical therapy is effective for elbow, wrist and hand pain. As a matter of fact, it can help you avoid surgery. Often, a physical therapist will work in conjunction with your primary care doctor to identify the root cause of your pain. Strength and flexibility will also be assessed. After a full evaluation, a physical therapist will use therapeutic techniques to eliminate the pain. After that, the focus will be on building your range of motion. Exercises for strength will also be performed. Passive treatments may include ice therapy, heat therapy, massage therapy or electrical stimulation. The goal is to rid you of pain and improve function.