Perhaps your career requires you to use and abuse your hands, or you wish you could continue pursuing a longtime hobby that requires dexterity. From handwork to gardening, woodwork to fly fishing, computer work to massage, many of us require a lot of our hands. Over time, such activities can produce painful and limiting arthritis and finger strain. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce pain and trauma to your appendages.
Support with Bracing
Manual labor can really take a toll on hands and fingers, causing arthritis to set in as early as during a person’s thirties. The repeated stress to your joints puts a lot of stress on them, but flexible braces can help soften the effects of that stress by supporting the struggling joints. One such brace is the short thumb spica, which helps eliminate thumb pain. The short thumb spica surrounds the wrist and supports the base of the thumb. For those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis of the wrist, wrist braces can help by controlling motion of the wrist. The same kind of bracing can help other arthritic joints, as well, from the neck to ankles.
Even though bracing can lessen the negative effects of arthritis by restricting joint motion, it can also lead to atrophied muscles. These potential problems can be alleviated by regularly stretching them and using strengthening exercises.
Reacting to Finger Injuries
If you rely on your hands for your livelihood, injuring your fingers can be quite traumatic. Even still, refraining from panic is important. Crushed, sliced, or jammed fingers usually do heal fully and return to full functionality, despite the initial restrictions in usability. By straightening and then bending your finger, you can discover the shape the tendons and other support structures are in. Swelling may inhibit your ability to do this right away, even if the structures are in good shape. That swelling can be more extreme than in other appendages and last longer, as well; in fact, swelling can remain for months following an injury.
However, if swelling is accompanied by continual pain and bruising, an x-ray may be in order. In such a case, you’ll want to make sure to get a full medical evaluation before resuming the use of the affected digit. As long as your physician okays your use, you’ll do your injured finger more harm than good by restricting its use. Unnecessarily restricting use could lead to stiffness and hypersensitivity long after full recovery is possible.
As frustrating or even frightening as short-term finger or hand pain can be, it’s usually not beyond the reach of modern physical therapy. As you consult with your physician about reducing the pain and trauma caused by hard work or play, you can continue doing what you do best.
PhysioDC of Washington, D.C.
Daniel Baumstark and his professional team of physical therapists operate a boutique physical therapy office in downtown Washington, D.C. From athletes to government officials, and from ballerinas to corporate executives, PhysioDC helps people recover, strengthen and return to healthy living. Visit their site (click here) or call them at 202-223-8500.
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Photo credits: Top © WavebreakmediaMicro / Fotolia. Bottom © KonArt / Fotolia.
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