I’m often surprised that people do not consider chiropractic care for hand and wrist pain. We do more than just low back and neck pain. We are taught to address the spine and most other joints of the body including the hand and wrist.Hand and wrist pain for the sake of this article is not about carpal tunnel syndrome. That is another topic for another day. Besides which, most carpal tunnel syndromes involve the neck. Hand and wrist pain can be independent of the neck.What are the some of the more common hand and wrist pain cases that a typical chiropractor would treat? For one, overuse or repetitive strain syndromes that can manifest either as hand/wrist or elbow pain. The typical scenarios can be sports injuries, falling and catching oneself with the hand extended, weight lifting or lifting heavy items (such as with a recent move to another house). Even repetitive activities such as knitting, crocheting, computer usage can add to repetitive strain. Massage therapists also are at risk for repetitive strains with the heavy usage of their hands, forearms and elbows.Pain along the thumb (usually of the dominant hand) is another typical pain syndrome seen by chiropractors. This is usually an inflammation of the extensor hallicus longus tendon – translation: inflammation of the tendon that goes to the thumb. This is usually of a chronic nature. Difficulty writing, picking up objects, performing fine motor skills with the thumb can be painful. The joint where the thumb attaches to the hand is the most commonly degenerative joint in the hand. That tells us we use our thumbs a lot. Over time the wear and tear stress upon that joint makes is vulnerable to degenerative or arthritic changes.Finger pain shows up now and then. Typically, the finger doesn’t bend all the way. The pain is usually not disabling but annoying. I had a patient with such a case. He had low grade finger pain for over 20 years. He thought there was no cure. Just on a whim he ventured to ask if anything could be done for it. One treatment and the pain was totally gone and hasn’t returned since.A typical treatment protocol for hand and wrist pain is of course chiropractic adjustments. I use the Activator (hand held device) which pinpoints the joint accurately. I also use the “speeder board” which is like a mini-drop table. This helps to jog loose the joint that maybe stuck. Soft tissue work is also helpful to reduce inflammation, break up adhesions, reduce muscle spasm, increase vascularity to the tissues and most importantly reduce pain. Checking other related structures can ferret out contributing causes to the pain. Typically, the elbow, shoulder and neck are the usual suspects.In more advanced cases, testing for loss of strength and other orthopedic tests to rule out nerve entrapment syndromes, carpal tunnel syndrome, and thoracic outlet syndrome may be necessary.The point of this article is to speak up to your chiropractor about any hand or wrist pain that you may be having. You might be surprised.
Is your work or hobby hurting your wrists? If you get carpal tunnel or wrist pain, there are 2 stretches that can make it worse. You might think that stretches are good for your wrists, to relieve muscle tension. But without knowing exactly which stretches are therapeutic for your condition, you could actually be increasing your pain.Wrist extension and flexion.
When there is not a straight line from your elbow to your fingers, then your wrists are not flat. They are bent, in either a flexed position or an extended position. When the hands are moving downward, they are flexed. When the hands are lifted up, they are extended.Repetitive Stress Injuries.
When your wrists are kept in one position for too long, you can develop a Repetitive Stress Injury, or RSI. This is usually caused by repetitive movements due to work or hobbies.Your hand and forearm muscles are also affected. And the surrounding structures, like your joints, connective tissue (fascia), and the carpal tunnel in your wrist, can be shifted out of alignment.When surrounding tissues are imbalanced, they restrict fascia, nerves, and blood flow. This results in your pain.Stretches for natural pain relief.
Sure, stretching can loosen muscles and fascia, relieving tension that causes you pain. But it’s important to know which stretches can help, and which can hurt.Extension movement commonly causes wrist pain and carpal tunnel symptoms. Typing, for example, keeps your wrists slightly extended for long periods of time. This is also common with crafting and construction work. In time, the carpal tunnel shifts out of place, restricting nerves and other tissues. Ouch!If prolonged wrist extension is causing your pain, then you want to avoid extension stretches. There are 2 ‘bad stretches’ that patients commonly practice, but mistakenly think they are doing themselves good when they are, in fact, doing more harm. Here are the 2 extension stretches to avoid:1) Reach one arm straight out in front of you. Turn your palm up, as if to tell someone ‘Stop!’ With the other hand, press against the fingertips, pulling them back toward the forearm.2) Similar to the first stretch, straighten an arm in front of you. Flip your arm over, so the hand is palm-side-up. Using the other hand, press against the fingers, pulling them downward toward the forearm.Do you see how both of these put the wrist into further extension? If your problem were due to prolonged flexion, then these would be therapeutic. But carpal tunnel syndrome and wrist pain are more commonly due to prolonged extension.Until your orthopedist or physical therapist approves them, avoid wrist extension stretches. Instead, work on therapeutic exercises that relieve your pain and correct your imbalances.