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Exercises that Strengthen Your Hand and Prevent Injuries

As an athlete or active individual, you know how to power your game and keep your body at its fighting best. Workouts and cardio work keep your arms, legs, and torso ready for action – but have you thought about your hands?

Specific hand exercises and routines can help keep your hands strong and healthy. Hand exercise can also benefit people who find that stiffness, pain, or swelling of the hands prevents them from performing daily tasks and enjoying a full life.

How Can I Make My Hands Stronger?

Today, orthopedists and physical therapists have a battery of exercises for the hands and wrists that have proven effective for everyone, whether you’re an athlete or a retiree or somewhere in between. Many of these exercises were first developed for rehabilitation following hand injuries and surgeries.

Below are some of the exercises that can help you strengthen your hands and keep them healthy:

Finger Stretches

Finger stretches are helpful exercises that can help maintain and improve the range of motion of your hands and also help to relieve pain and swelling.

1.    Place your hands palm-down on a flat surface.

2.    Straighten your fingers slowly, while slightly pressing against the flat surface (without applying excessive force).

3.    Once they’re fully straightened, hold this position for 15 seconds.

4.    Release, and repeat three times for each hand. 

Claw Stretches 

Claw stretches maintain and improve the range of motion of your fingers. 

1.    Hold your hands out in front of you with palms facing you.

2.    Bend your fingertips downward within the hand, so each fingertip is touching the base of the finger.

3.    While keeping them bent in this position, pull the fingers back to open the palm. (Now you see why this is called a “claw stretch.”)

4.    Hold this position for 15-30 seconds.

5.    Release, and repeat three times for each hand.

Thumb Stretches

The joints of your thumbs are vulnerable to injury. This exercise helps strengthen these joints and the four major tendons that control your thumb. 

1.    Hold your hands out, palms facing you.

2.    Slowly bend the tip of your thumb down toward the base of your little finger.

3.    Hold this position for 30 seconds.

4.    Release, and repeat three times for each thumb. 

Grip Strengthener 

This exercise is designed to strengthen your grip. You can use a tennis ball, rubber ball, or foam ball.

1.    Hold the ball in your palm, and slowly squeeze it as hard as you can.

2.    Hold this position for five seconds.

3.    Release, and repeat five times for each hand. 

You can repeat these hand workouts two or three times a week, and add more exercises as you go. Stop if you feel pain during or after the exercises; never force the tendons or joints beyond their range of motion.

Contact an Orthopedic Doctor in Colorado Springs

Our medical team at the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence are experts in sports injuries – and in keeping the body strong to prevent injury in the first place. We offer a full range of therapy, minimally invasive treatments, and bone and joint surgery.

Call us today to make an appointment at our Colorado Springs at (719) 623-1050, or request an appointment here. Let us help you continue to enjoy the active, pain-free lifestyle you love!

5 Causes of Wrist Pain

Whether you enjoy an athletic, energetic lifestyle or live a more sedentary, relaxing life, you may sometimes experience wrist pain that can slow down or stop your activities. Many factors can lead to wrist pain, and it’s often difficult to identify the precise cause, but there are some specific activities and conditions that can lead to soreness and pain in your wrists.

The most frequent causes of wrist pain include the following:

1. Injury

The wrist is formed by eight small bones at the base of the hand, called carpal bones, which connect to your forearm bones. The scaphoid bone, located at the base of the thumb, is the wrist bone that is fractured the most often.

Wrist injuries can occur when you fall onto your outstretched hand to catch your fall. Your entire body weight may be thrust onto the wrist area with enough force to cause damage. This action can cause strains, sprains, and fractures.

Tears in the wrist ligaments and tendons are also frequent injuries in athletes. High-impact contact sports such as hockey and football tend to create a higher risk of injury to the wrists.

2. Repetitive Stress

Activities that involve continuous repetitive stress of the hands, wrists, and fingers, such as typing, playing tennis or golf, and even driving for long distances, can eventually lead to wrist injury.

Repetitive use of the wrist can inflame its tendons (tendinitis) or put excessive pressure on local nerves. Certain jobs such as assembly line work, hairdressing, construction, or even sewing can cause repetitive damage to the wrist.

3. Arthritis

Arthritis occurs when the cartilage between bones wears down. Cartilage helps cushion joints and maintains their smooth movement and correct function. If arthritis develops in the wrist, the joints in the wrist area become inflamed and painful and, in extreme cases, may lose movement altogether.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which can be caused by aging, obesity, injury, or the daily wear-and-tear of joints. Arthritis-related pain is often experienced as a dull toothache-like sensation.

Osteoarthritis of the wrist is not common, but it can happen to people who have had wrist fractures in the past. Rheumatoid arthritis, which is caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy joints, can affect both wrists at the same time.

4. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, running from the forearm to the palm of the hand, becomes compressed or squeezed by the surrounding tissue. The median nerve crosses the palm side of the wrist at a narrow channel called the carpal tunnel, surrounded by bones and ligaments.

The median nerve is central to the wrist, hand, and finger movement. People sometimes describe the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome as painful pins-and-needles or a tingling sensation. The pain may reach all the way up to the shoulder, and it is usually experienced at night or after working for many hours.

5. Other Diseases and Conditions

Obesity and diabetes can put you at a higher risk of experiencing wrist pain. Conditions that can produce wrist pain include a ganglion cyst, which is a fluid-filled lump that can appear on top of your wrist. It can be drained by a physician, but it usually goes away naturally.

 An underactive thyroid gland can also cause wrist pain and inflammation. Kienbock’s disease is another condition seen in young adults when the blood supply to the bones of the wrist is affected.

Orthopedic Surgeon in Colorado Springs

Our team of physicians at the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence are experts in wrist, knee, and joint injuries, and we can implement the most effective treatments. When surgery is warranted, our orthopedic surgeons utilize the least invasive techniques available.

For outstanding orthopedic treatment, call our Colorado Springs office at (719) 623-1050 or fill out our online appointment request form. Let us help you stay in the game!

The Complete Guide to Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common cause of hand pain, sensations of numbness and weakness, and that “pins and needles” feeling in the hands. At the Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence, we are experts in all aspects of hand and wrist care. That’s why we created this complete guide to carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Affecting nearly 10% of the US population, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression or entrapment of the medial nerve. The medial nerve runs under the skin in a narrow passageway known as the carpal tunnel. The tunnel extends from your forearm into your wrist. It is formed by the carpal bones and nine tendons. The medial nerve is responsible for signals to and from the thumb, index, middle and part of your ring finger. If the tendons and connective tissues become inflamed due to overuse or other factors, they can swell, placing pressure on the delicate nerve.

When the nerve is compressed, the signals cannot fire properly and patients often begin to notice pain, a tingling or burning sensation, and numbness. People with carpal tunnel syndrome may have trouble gripping or holding objects, or performing fine motor functions such as writing or playing a guitar. The onset of symptoms tends to be gradual and may come and go, especially at first.

If the condition is left untreated, it can cause the muscles to atrophy (waste away). While either hand can be affected, approximately half of the people diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome experience problems involving both hands.  Risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune disorders such as Lupus or multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Circulatory disorders
  • Obesity
  • Work that is highly repetitive, such as typing

Fortunately, carpal tunnel syndrome is highly treatable. Depending on the severity, it may require only rest, bracing, or other treatment such as anti-inflammatory medications. If you do not respond to treatment, surgery may be required.

The most common corrective surgery for carpal tunnel is known as an open release. In an open release procedure, the surgeon can correct the issue by opening a space to relieve pressure on the median nerve. The procedure requires a three-inch incision in what is known as the transverse carpal ligament, in order to enlarge the tunnel. This procedure usually takes about 15 minutes to perform.

This surgery is also possible with an endoscopic carpal tunnel release. An incision is made in the palm of the hand and the surgeon gently slides a small endoscope into the opening. The surgeon then makes another incision in order to insert a specialized instrument that will be used to relieve pressure on the nerve.

After the procedure has been completed, the wound is wrapped in a soft sterile dressing. Patients are required to wear bracing to protect the area and promote healing. Patients can move their fingers right after the surgery, and are advised to avoid gripping heavy objects or picking up heavy loads for another six weeks. To learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome, or any other orthopedic related concern, please call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 to request an appointment.

Types of Hand Pain

The anatomy of our hands is complex. The hand has 27 bones, muscles, joints, and ligaments. Due to the fragility of the hand, they are extremely prone to injury. Hand pain can also be caused by disease or injury affecting any of the structures in the hand.

Any problem causing pain, swelling, discoloration, numbness or a tingling sensation, or abnormal shape of the hand or wrist that persists for more than two or three days should be evaluated by your doctor to establish the cause and obtain the best treatment as early as possible. The early the problem is dealt with, the better the outcome or diagnosis will be, and the more treatable it will be. Conditions that affect the hand and wrist include:

Sprains and Strains:

Sprains and Strains are common with the hand and fingers. A strain involves the soft tissues of the hand, wrist or fingers. A sprain involves injury to your ligaments (bands of tissue that connect the bones together).

Fractures:

The common cause of a hand fracture is falling and landing on your arm or hand. Fractures are usually treated by splinting or putting on a cast, to allow the fracture to be supported and heal properly.  

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

CTS is a condition in the hand and wrist which causes numbness and tingling. The carpal tunnel is the part of the wrist. Permanent damage can occur if not treated properly.

Arthritis: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid:

There are two major types of arthritis that can affect the hands. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, which gets worse with age and is caused by wear and tear. This type of arthritis affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint. Osteoarthritis makes movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain and stiffness. Once the cartilage lining starts to roughen and thin out, the tendons and ligaments must compensate and work harder.

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system targets affected joints, which leads to pain and swelling. The outer covering of the joint called the synovium is the first place that becomes affected. This can then spread across the joint, leading to further swelling and a change in the joint’s shape, and may cause the bone and cartilage to break down.

Trigger Finger:

Trigger finger is caused when the fingers bend, but lock and become stiff, causing severe pain.

If you’re living with hand pain, it may be time to take a closer look at your symptoms and explore treatment options. Call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 to request an appointment.