Hand Therapy

What Is Orthopedic Hand Therapy?

Orthopedic hand therapy is a specialized form of physical or occupational therapy for injuries and pain originating in the hands and upper extremities. Hand therapy is used to treat a variety of occupational and sports injuries, as well as to assist patients in post-surgical recovery and with other medical conditions. Whereas physical therapy is a generalized approach to rehabilitation, hand therapy targets the fingers, wrists, elbow, arms, and shoulders for tissue and joint repair, pain relief, and functional improvement. Hand therapy is conducted by certified hand therapists rather than physical or occupational therapists.

Hand injuries are a common occurrence in the U.S. More than 100,000 persons every year cut, burn, crush, or otherwise harm their hands while on the job, making it the second-most workplace-injured part of the body, after the back. If pain or dysfunction of the hands or upper extremities is troubling you, arrange to see the orthopedic specialists at Baptist Health.

Who Receives Hand Therapy?

Hand therapy is frequently utilized to treat people with a range of physical afflictions:

  • Discomfort in the outer part of the elbow (tennis elbow)
  • Compressed nerves in the wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Shoulder pain and problems, including rotator cuff injuries
  • Painful swollen joints from arthritis
  • Broken wrist (wrist fracture)
  • Fractures in fingers, arms, and shoulder
  • Hand pain and problems
  • Work-related injuries

Hand therapy can also play a role in assisting patients with various medical conditions, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Amputations
  • Burns
  • Congenital hand deformities
  • Strokes
  • Scleroderma 

How Does Hand Therapy at Baptist Health Work?

Hand therapy at Baptist Health involves the following steps:

  • Evaluation: We perform a comprehensive evaluation to learn more about the injury or medical condition. We also perform a physical exam to determine your current range of motion and level of functioning. If a hand surgeon referred you to us, we work with your surgeon to find out more about the procedure you had and the types of therapy your surgeon is recommending.
  • Education: Our goal is to help you have a good experience, which includes taking time to explain what treatments you need and how they work. We also talk about the activities and movements you should not do while your hand is healing. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have.
  • Personalized treatment plan: We develop a personalized plan taking into account the injury or medical condition as well as your personal recovery goals.
  • Bracing and splinting: Your treatment may start with special devices that hold your hand in a fixed position, so it can heal. Braces and splints work in the same way by partially wrapping around your hand and holding it stable. Splints are smaller and work best for fingers. Our therapist makes custom braces and splints when necessary to ensure your hand stays in the right position.
  • On-site therapy: During your appointment, we work with you one-on-one to complete a series of exercises specifically designed to improve strength and functioning.
  • Home exercises: We give you additional exercises you can perform at home. Performing these additional exercises can keep your treatment on track between appointments.

Hand therapy encompasses a number of treatment approaches:

  • Pain management
  • Functional assessments
  • Customized orthotics
  • Exercise programs for improving strength, mobility, and dexterity
  • Sensory re-education and compensation
  • Hot and cold therapies
  • Wound and scar care
  • Compression therapy
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Assistive devices and training
  • Prosthetics and training

How Do I Start Hand Therapy?

Orthopedic hand therapy is a proven means of healing tissue, reducing pain, and regaining mobility for persons suffering from injuries and disorders of the hands and upper extremities. It accomplishes this without surgery but also works well with other forms of care. Contact your Baptist Health physician to get started.

Next Steps with MyChart

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