Ten Home Techniques to Improve Thumb/ Hand Arthritis and Carpal Tunnel pain! Dr. Meghan Little MS, PT, DPT, ATC, CM TPT, CHT
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1.Use larger handled objects in the kitchen to ease pain 2.Release the thumb adductor (thumb OA) 3. Pinch with three fingers instead of two (thumb OA 4. Sleep with a splint on the wrist at night (carpal tunnel) 5. Perform tendon gliding exercises for hand arthritis and carpal tunnel 6. Enlarge pencil and pen grip 7. Hold an object or book with hands instead of pinching 8. Perform median nerve glides (carpal tunnel) 9. When the thumb is extremely painful rest in a splint until the pain eases. 10. Make opening jars easier and less painful
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1. Use larger handled objects in the kitchen to ease pain
L arger handed objects for cooking and eating reduce stress on the joints and eases muscular fatigue. They can be purchased to help with any hand problems especially arthritis.
2. Release the thumb adductor (thumb OA)
T he thumb adductor is the first muscle to shorten and become tight with thumb arthritis due to bone build up in the base of the thumb that changes the thumb position. Releasing this muscle is the first step toward a painless thumb. Exercise: Hold down the adductor or massage it for up to 5 minutes a day. Or use a bag clip and place it in your web-space and leave it for up to 5 minutes a day.
3. Pinch with three fingers instead of two (thumb OA)
T o limit pressure on the base of the thumb you should always try to pinch with three fingers (thumb, index and the middle fingers) picture A. Picture B demonstrates ways of pinching with the (thumb and index finger) which is not preferred. The force through the base of the thumb is 12 times greater in picture B vs. picture A increasing pain and irritation to the base of the thumb.
4. Sleep with a splint on the wrist at night (carpal tunnel) A wrist brace can be purchased at a medical supply store or a drug store. The purpose is to keep the wrist positioned in neutral at night. If the wrist is flexed or extended the pressure is increased on the nerve. This takes pressure off the median nerve and allows it to rest while you sleep. The wrist brace should be worn every night while you are still experiencing numbness and tingling.
5. Perform tendon gliding exercises for hand arthritis and carpal tunnel
T his exercise is a gentle way to move the joints and tendons in your hands and maintain motion. Do these movements until you feel a mild stretch. Never push to a strong stretch. A. Hold your hand straight with your fingers and thumb pointing up. Your wrist should be relaxed, following the line of your fingers and thumb. B. Bend your fingers at the knuckle joint while holding the top two joints straight. C. Curl your fingers so that the top joint is straight and the fingertips touch the base of your palm. Your thumb can rest against your index finger. D. Curl your fingers so that the top two joints in them are bent and your fingers wrap down. Your fingertips should touch or be near the base of your fingers. Your fingers will look like a hook. E. Make a fist by bending your knuckles. Your thumb can gently rest against your index (pointing) finger or curl up against the index and the middle finger. Perform 10 reps, 3 times a day
6. Enlarge pencil and pen grip
E nlarged pencil and pen grips help to ease pain with pinching associated with thumb arthritis. They also help to provide a more stable surface for writing with a weak hand. They can be purchased at an office supply store and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
7. Hold an object or book with hands instead of pinching
R efer to the top picture; the patient is pinching the book on the sides. This causes increased force load through the base of the thumb and increases your pain. Dispersing the weight in the picture below with your palms eliminates pain in the fingers and the thumb. The same theory is correct for carrying objects.
8. Perform median nerve glides (carpal tunnel)
T his exercise helps to stretch the median nerve. Place the hand as well as you can with the wrist extended against the wall and then gently side bend your neck away from your extended arm. You should feel a stretch not pain. If you have pain do not bend the neck as far.
Perform 10 reps, 2 second holds 2 times a day .
9. When the thumb is extremely painful rest in a splint until the pain eases. The pain from arthritis will fluctuate. T he pain from arthritis can fluctuate. During periods of increased pain (inflammation period) resting the thumb in a splint can ease the pain especially if youareperformingheavyduty activities. Abrace canbepurchased online or at the drugstore. You should purchase a brace that includes the thumb similar to the one pictured on the right. The picture on the left is of a custom splint that is made by the hand therapist at Synergy Rehab and Wellness. In some cases this splint is preferred because it is custom made to fit only your hand.
10. Make opening jars easier and less painful
T he automatic can openers, multi openers, grippers and under the cabinet jar opening mounts take stress off the hands and thumb and make opening jars a painless chore.
W hether you are suffering from carpal tunnel or thumb arthritis it is better to seek treatment before the numbness and tingling is constant in the hand and the pain in the thumb is unbearable. Therapy services would include modalities that help to decrease inflammation and pain, exercises that restore motion and strength, learning joint mechanics and positioning to relieve stress on the joint and nerve, and learning techniques that you can implement at home to help prevent or control pain and numbness. At Synergy Rehab and Wellness, we are specialized to help treat hand injuries. We have one of the only board Certified Hand Therapist in the area on staff with over 6 years of direct experience with the hand and 15 years experience as a Physical Therapist. Watever your hand problem, you are not alone.We treat peoplewith your hand and thumb condition every day and help them with the use of their hands for the activities you are likely struggling with performing. Don’t suffer needlessly or consider surgery until you have tried our research proven methods first. Call today to schedule, or if you have questions and would like to speak to one of our doctors of PT first.
Phone # - 540-416-0503 Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
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