Hand pain can have a significant impact on daily life. For many, hand therapy treatment can offer major relief. Effective care strategies can help whether the pain is caused by a medical condition, injury or overuse. A trained occupational or hand therapist can help identify the sources of your pain and can create an effective individualized plan of care. If you have been injured, occupational and hand therapy can help speed up your recovery. Exercises are a commonly recommended treatment for their efficiency and convenience. With guidance, hand therapy exercises are meant to improve hand strength, flexibility and function.
Common causes of hand pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome — Carpal tunnel syndrome affects up to 6% of the adult population. That makes it the most common entrapment neuropathy. Carpal tunnel syndrome involves the compression of the median nerve in the wrist. This can cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling and weakness. You may feel pain from your forearm to your fingertips.
- Arthritis — Arthritis is a condition involving joint inflammation. Different kinds of arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. While the symptoms can differ, each kind of arthritis can involve hand pain. You may feel a dull, aching pain and stiffness around your hand joints. With arthritis, you can also experience reduced joint mobility.
- Tendinitis — Overuse can inflame the tendons in your hand. This can cause pain and swelling. Other common causes of tendinitis include repetitive motions and injury. Some patients describe a “crackling” sensation when they move the inflamed regions. Tendon pain in the hand often gets more intense with movement.
Core hand therapy exercises oftentimes prescribed based on your individual condition
- Flexor stretches — The flexors are vital tendons in your fingers and wrists. These strong cords serve to keep your bones and muscles connected. Exercising finger and wrist tendons can relieve tension. This can improve flexibility and reduce pain. To stretch your finger flexors, extend one arm in front of you. Keep your palm faced away. Use your free hand to pull back the fingers of the other until you can feel a stretch. Alternate hands, holding for 20 or 30 seconds each time. To stretch your wrist flexors, gently bend your wrist instead. These exercises work well in conjunction with each other.
- Thumb abduction — Abduction exercises can strengthen the muscles responsible for thumb movement. This therapy exercise can help with imbalances that cause hand pain. To start, hold your hand in a fingers-up position. Create an “L” shape by slowly moving your thumb away from your fingers. Return to the starting position and repeat 10 to 15 times. You can alternate hands with each repetition.
- Fist squeeze — This hand therapy exercise begins by forming a fist with your hand. Then squeeze tightly for around 12 seconds. After releasing, you can repeat this exercise with each hand for several sets. If you have a stress ball, you can use this instead of an empty fist. Hand squeezes can be a great occupational therapy exercise for building strength.
- Finger extension — To do this exercise, you will need a small elastic band for resistance. A rubber band should work. To start, place the band around all five fingers. Then spread your fingers apart against the resistance of the band. This exercise targets the flexors in your fingers. Stretching your flexors can promote balance and flexibility in your hand. This can alleviate the tension underlying your hand pain.
- Wrist radial deviation — This wrist exercise is designed to relieve pain and improve lateral movement. A physical therapist may recommend this exercise for hand conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. To start, hold a small weight in your hand. Without moving your arm, tilt your wrist forward and back with the weight. You do not have to use a traditional weight for this exercise; a vegetable can or water bottle should work as well.
Excel Rehab & Sports can help your hand recover with hands-on therapy treatment
Ready to start your recovery journey? Excel Rehab & Sports can help you each step of the way. We understand how much hand pain can affect your daily activities. Making a full recovery can require the help of someone with knowledge of the hand’s complex workings. This is why your care will be led by board-certified hand therapists (CHTs). Our licensed therapists can build a hand exercise program tailored to your needs and priorities. Seeking the care of a certified occupational and hand therapist, you increase your chances of making a complete and fast-paced recovery.
Contact our team today for more information about the right hand or occupational therapy approach for your hand condition or to schedule an initial appointment.