If you’re like most people, you use your hands all of the time. In fact, your hands and wrists are probably one of the most used parts of your body. From cleaning and cooking, to writing and typing, to making music and art, to driving a car, we use our hands when we do almost anything. With all of the extra use your hands and wrists see, they are susceptible to all kinds of joint and muscle problems. When that happens, it can be quite debilitating, and can hinder your ability to do a myriad of things important to your daily life. Fortunately, there are ways you can prevent some of the most common causes of hand surgery, and if you do end up needing surgical intervention, our certified surgeons can help you find the relief you’ve been looking for.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What it is: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the transverse carpal ligament, or TCL, narrows, or the surrounding tissues pressure the median nerve, which goes down your arm into your hand. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by the compression of the TCL on the section of the median nerve that connects the base of your wrist and your hand.
Common Symptoms: First presenting itself as tingling and/or numbness on the thumb side of the hand, Carpal Tunnel can progress to loss of feeling and weakness within your thumb muscle.
How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
- Improve your posture at work. You can try to use a wrist pad for your mouse and keyboard, or adjust your seat to help you sit up straight.
- Ice your wrists when they feel sore.
- Avoid sleeping in positions that bend or curl your wrists.
- Take frequent breaks from typing or lifting heavy objects.
- Stretch your hand, fingers and wrist hourly. Flex your palm and rotate your wrists in a circular motion.
Treatment: Though the previous steps can help prevent surgical intervention, a solution isn’t always that simple. In the early progressions of the disease, your doctor may provide a brace or oral steroid to help alleviate your symptoms. If your symptoms continue or worsen, surgery is usually the next step. During carpal tunnel surgery, your surgeon will make an incision at the base of your palm, cutting the TCL, relieving the median nerve compression. During recovery, scar tissue builds over the gap in the TCL. For some patients, symptoms go away immediately, while for others total symptom relief may take up to six months.
What they are: Ganglion Cysts are small lumps filled with fluid or a viscous substance on the hand and wrist that appear randomly.
Common Symptoms: For some patients, these cysts cause pain and discomfort. For others, they can actually inhibit their ability to move their hand or wrist.
Treatment: Because these cysts occur randomly, there is no way to prevent them. However, they can be treated in a variety of ways–including aspiration or drainage from your hand surgeon. If a cyst persists and becomes too symptomatic, your doctor may perform surgery to remove it.
Basal Joint Arthritis
What it is: Arthritis is a common condition that occurs due to the normal wear and tear of your body due to life. Characterized by the deterioration of the cartilage that lines your joints, arthritis creates bone-on-bone friction. When arthritis occurs in the hand at the base of the thumb, it is known as Basal Joint Arthritis.
Common Symptoms: Basal Joint Arthritis can cause inflammation, irritation, loss of motion, weakness, pain, stiffness and swelling.
How to Prevent Basal Joint Arthritis: The following hand exercises can be used to help prevent the onset of arthritis in the hand.
- Bend each of your fingers down towards your palm. Straighten them out again.
- Curve your fingers to create an “o” shape. Hold them there for a few seconds before releasing.
- Lay your hand on a flat surface. With each finger, lift up and hold for a few moments before returning them to the flat surface.
- Regularly stretch your wrist up and down. If needed, apply slight pressure.
- Several times per day, create a fist with your thumb on the outside. Stretch your fingers and return them to the fist position.
Treatment: In the early stages of Basal Joint Arthritis, your doctor may provide you with topical or over-the-counter medications, injections or splints. However, if your symptoms progress, your hand surgeon may recommend a ligament reconstruction tendon interposition, a surgery that removes the bone from the base of the thumb to eliminate grinding and pain. Recovery usually takes up to six weeks and requires hand therapy.
What it is: Trigger Finger occurs when nodules form on a flexor tendon. These nodules, caused by tendon friction, then prevent the tendon from gliding and moving your finger. This results tin your finger remaining locked in a bent position.
How to Prevent Trigger Finger: Daily hand stretching can give your hands a much needed break and can even prevent the onset of Trigger Finger. These exercises include the following:
- Pinch your fingertips and thumb together. Put an elastic band around your fingers and then spread your fingers open.
- Twice per day, scatter small objects, such as coins, buttons, or tweezers, across the table. Pick up one object at a time using only one finger and your thumb.
Treatment: Non-surgical treatments for Trigger Finger include corticosteroid injections. Your doctor may try injections up to three times. If your symptoms don’t improve, your doctor will likely recommend surgery to remove the nodule(s) to allow your tendon to flex properly again.
Contact the Hand Specialists at Townsen Memorial Today
At Townsen Memorial, we have a team of highly-skilled surgeons to help you with your hand condition. Dr. Mark Khorsandi is one of the top double board-certified hand surgeons in the Houston area. A leader in the surgical field, Dr. Khorsandi has developed the discipline of hand surgery, and has earned a reputation as a skilled physician who puts his patients first. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, visit https://www.townsenclinic.com/contact/.