Acupuncture Treatments For Wrist & Hand Pain
The bones, small joints, and connective tissue of the hands and wrists are prone to several types of injuries. These injuries can happen in otherwise healthy joints, or a disease process may make an injury more likely in the hand or wrist. Acupuncture treatments for wrist and hand pain can help by alleviating inflammation and restoring range of motion.
Causes of Wrist & Hand Pain
Hand and wrist pain may vary, depending on the cause. It may stem from injuries, arthritis, or other diseases and conditions.
- Sudden impact. Wrist injuries are common when you fall forward onto your outstretched hand. This can cause sprains, strains, or fractures.
- Repetitive stress. Repetitive wrist motions like hitting a tennis ball can inflame the tissue around the wrists or cause stress fractures, especially when you don't take breaks. De Quervain's disease is a common repetitive stress injury that causes pain at the base of the thumb.
- Osteoarthritis. This occurs when the cartilage at the ends of your bones deteriorates over time. While uncommon in the wrist, osteoarthritis typically occurs in individuals who have injured that wrist in the past.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. This type of arthritis commonly involves the wrist and occurs because the body's immune system attacks its own tissues.
Other diseases and conditions
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. This disease develops when there is increased pressure on the median nerve as it passes through the elbow muscles or carpal tunnel, which is located in the palm side of your wrist.
- Ganglion cysts. These occur most often on the part of your wrist opposite your palm. Pain caused by Ganglion cysts may worsen or improve with activity.
- Kienbock's disease. This involves the progressive collapse of one of the small bones in the wrist.
Hand and wrist pain can happen to anyone, but your risk of developing hand and wrist pain may be increased by:
- Sports. Wrist injuries are common in many sports that involve impact and repetitive stress on the wrist. This can include bowling, football, golf, tennis, and snowboarding.
- Repetitive work. Any activity that involves your hands and wrists – if performed forcefully and often enough – can lead to hand and wrist pain.
- Diseases and conditions. Pregnancy, obesity, and rheumatoid arthritis may increase your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Anatomy of the Wrist & Hand
A collection of multiple bones and joints, the wrist is a joint that bridges the hand to the forearm. The wrist is comprised of: the distal ends of the radius and ulna, 8 carpal bones, and the proximal portions of the 5 metacarpal bones.
Together, the hand and wrist are made up of 27 bones. The hand contains 5 metacarpal bones and 14 phalanges. The hand is innervated by 3 nerves: the median, ulnar, and radial nerves. Each of these has sensory and motor components.
The muscles of the hand are divided into intrinsic and extrinsic groups. The intrinsic muscles are located within the hand itself while the extrinsic muscles are located in the forearm and attach to the hand by long tendons.
How Is Hand & Wrist Pain Diagnosed
During a physical exam, your physician may:
- Check your wrist for tenderness or swelling.
- Ask you to move your wrist to check for a decrease in motion.
- Assess your grip strength.
In some cases, your physician may suggest:
- Imaging tests. X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, or MRIs can provide a more-detailed view of the carpal bones, tendons, and ligaments in your hand and wrist.
- Arthroscopy.If imaging test results are inconclusive, your physician may perform an arthroscopy. This is a procedure where a pencil-sized instrument with a camera is inserted through a small incision in your skin.
- Nerve tests. This test measures tiny electrical discharges produced in your muscles. The muscle's electrical activity is recorded when the muscle is at rest and when it's contracted. Tests can also be performed to evaluate the functioning of the hand nerves.
Home Treatments for Wrist & Hand Pain
Home treatment may be all that is needed to treat wrist or hand pain. These include:
- Removing rings, bracelets, or watches from your finger, wrist, or arm as soon as you notice any swelling. It will be more difficult to remove jewelry after swelling increases.
- Remember the acronym PRICE: protect, rest, ice, compression, and elevation for pain and swelling.
- Avoid sleeping on your hand, because this may decrease blood flow to your fingers.
- Stop, change, or take a break from your activities.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and Tylenol may help reduce wrist pain.
Medical Treatments for Wrist & Hand Pain
Not all wrist and hand pain require medical treatment. Minor sprains and strains usually respond to ice, rest, and over-the-counter pain medications. But if pain and swelling lasts longer than a few days, see your physician. Delayed diagnosis and treatment may lead to reduced range of motion, poor healing, and long-term disability.
Surgery may be necessary for:
- Bone fractures. Surgery may be needed to stabilize bone fractures to permit healing.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. If your wrist and hand pain is severe, you may need to have the ligament that forms the roof of the tunnel cut open to relieve the pressure on the nerve.
- Tendon or ligament repair. Surgery is necessary to repair tendons or ligaments that have ruptured.
Conservative Treatments & Non Surgical Therapies:
- Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy. A sample of blood is taken and then the platelet and other healing elements are removed and injected into the injured wrist and hand.
- Physical Therapy Treatments. Specific exercises and stretches to increase strength and endurance to reduce the likelihood of future injuries.
- Class IV Low Level Laser. Cold laser therapy helps reduce pain and inflammation in the hand tendon and ligament injuries. Treatments also speeds cellular healing and repair. Cold laser treatments can also help nerves repair and regenerate faster.
- Braces & Orthopedic Supports. Specific braces and support will help reduce the stress and strain on the injured tendons and ligaments during the day. By reducing the strain tendons can heal faster than without bracing.
- Graston Technique. Instrument assisted soft tissue techniques help break up scar tissue and cause increased fibroblast activity to enhance healing. Graston Technique helps alleviate the wrist and hand pain from acute and chronic injuries.
Acupuncture Treatments for Wrist & Hand Pain
A holistic health technique, acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). According to TCM, there is a natural energy flow (Qi) through the body that is essential for health. Disruptions of this energy flow are believed to be responsible for disease. Acupuncture is a technique used to restore the natural flow of energy in the body by activating its own self-healing.
An acupuncture treatment involves three steps:
- Needle insertion. Acupuncture needles are inserted to various depths at different points on your body. The needles are very thin, so people often don't feel them inserted at all. Between 5 and 20 needles are used in a typical treatment and depends on the area of the body being treated. When a needle reaches the correct depth, you may feel a mild aching sensation.
- Needle manipulation. Your practitioner may either gently move or twirl the needles after placement. Or they will apply heat, pressure or mild electrical pulses to the needles.
- Needle removal. The needles remain in place for 10 to 20 minutes while you lie still and relax. There is generally no discomfort when the needles are removed.
Acupuncture is a conservative treatment option for wrist and hand pain as it can address the inflammatory effects by improving wrist motion and decreasing pain. It can also be used to alleviate the initial cause of inflammation and retain muscle coordination.
Everyone has had a minor problem with a hand or wrist. Most symptoms of hand and wrist pain occur from everyday wear and tear or from overuse. Acupuncture is a holistic treatment option for treating wrist and hand pain. It addresses the underlying causes of inflammation and improves wrist motion.
Alpha Chiropractic and Physical Therapy provides treatment for many patients in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, Phoenix, and Maricopa. Therapy and treatments for many types of conditions can be improved with a combination of acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy. Learn more about our unique Chandler Chiropractic Clinic.
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