Tag Archives: hand injuries

causes of carpal tunnel

Common Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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Carpal Tunnel happens when the tendons become swollen (tenosynovitis) or if the tunnel size itself decreases because of injury – causing compression to the median nerve.  When compression occurs, a person can experience numbness, tingling, or a dull sensation of the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers. Symptoms may include pain during pinching and gripping, or a feeling of clumsiness and the inability to hold things. The best way to avoid carpal wrist pain, is to understand the main causes of carpal tunnel and use that information at work and at home.

WHAT IS THE CARPAL TUNNEL?
The carpal tunnel is a small space at the wrist in which the median nerve and nine tendons pass through. The median nerve travels on top of the tendons through the tunnel. The tunnel itself is made up of your wrist bones and along the top of the tunnel is a thick fibrous ligament called the transverse carpal ligament.

COMMON CAUSES OF CARPAL TUNNEL
Carpal Tunnel is typically not related to a specific injury. Some common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

Genetic Preposition – Many cases can be a result of physical characteristics of carpal tunnel or medical conditions associated with CTS, which also run in the family.

Repetitive Movements – Certain types of work, leisure and sports activities require use of the hand and wrist repetitively. Occupations such as manufacturing/assembly line workers, grocery checkers, musicians, carpenters and many others require the same movements. Common hobbies such as golfing, knitting and gardening also require repeated movements that cause carpal tunnel syndrome.

Injury or Trauma – Sprain or fracture of the wrist can cause swelling and pressure to the median nerve.

Pregnancy & Menopause – Hormonal fluctuation in women play a role in CTS. Such fluctuation may cause fluid retention and other changes that cause swelling in the body. Fluid retention frequently occurs during the last trimester of a pregnancy and is the reason for CTS.

Medical Conditions – Diabetes, hypothyroidism, lupus, obesity, and rheumatoid arthritis.

ACTIVITIES TO AVOID TO MINIMIZE SYMPTOMS

  • Avoid keeping your wrists bent in either direction. The best position for the wrist is neutral (straight)
  • Avoid rapid repetitive forceful or prolonged hand or arm use such as seen with factory work or data entry.
  • Avoid tight gripping and pinching
  • Avoid pressure to the palm or wrist
  • Avoid extreme cold or vibration.
hand therapy week PTandMe

ASHT: Hand Therapy Awareness Week

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Prevent hand and wrist injuries while cooking. Professional hand therapists promote wrist and hand health in the kitchen.

USE THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB
Use easy-to-grip versions of tools like spoons, knives and bottle/can openers to decrease the stress on your hands and use scissors to open bags (or packages) instead of your thumbs.

SIT OR STAND UP STRAIGHT
Correct posture is important because the nerves that operate your fingers start in neck. During activities which require you to be looking down at what you are doing, like chopping vegetables, take a moment to stand up straight, turn your head side to side/up and down, and stretch your arms over your head.

SLIDE, DO NOT LIFT
When working in the oven, always slide the shelf out so you can get a good, safe grasp of the panhandles.

KEEP YOUR SHOULDERS DOWN
Your arms should be at your sides and the counters you work on should be waist high. Many kitchen counters are too high for the average person. As a result, you may be forced to raise the shoulder you are using to cut the food and lean to the opposite side of your body when preparing food. This causes increased stress on the neck, shoulder and arm muscles and nerves.

repetitive strain injury

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI): Prevention Tips for Strain and Injury in the Workplace

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The Following are Seen as Causes of Repetitive Strain Injury:

  • The overuse of muscles in our hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck and back
  • The area is affected by repeated actions, which are usually performed on a daily basis over a long period
  • The repetitive actions are done in a cold place
  • Forceful movements are involved
  • Workstations are poorly organized
  • Equipment is badly designed
  • The individual commonly adopts an awkward posture
  • There are not enough rest breaks

RSI

Prevention 101: Nine Easy Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Developing Repetitive Strain Injury:

  • TAKE BREAKS when using your computer. Every hour or so, get up and walk around, get a drink of water, stretch whatever muscles are tight, and look out the window at a far off object (to rest your eyes).
  • Use good posture. If you can’t hold good posture, it probably means it’s time for you to take a break from typing. If you are perpetually struggling to maintain good posture, you probably need to adjust your workstation or chair, or develop some of the support muscles necessary for good posture.
  • Use an ergonomically-optimized workstation to reduce strain on your body.
  • Exercise regularly. Include strengthening, stretching, and aerobic exercises. Yoga and pilates may also be helpful.
  • Only use the computer as much as you have to. Don’t email people when you could walk down the hall or pick up the phone and talk to them. It’s not only better for your hands – it’s friendlier. Think before you type to avoid unnecessary editing.
  • Don’t stretch for the hard-to-reach keys, e.g. BACKSPACE, ENTER, SHIFT, and CONTROL… basically everything but the letters. Instead, move your entire hand so that you may press the desired key with ease. This is crucial when you are programming or typing something where non-letter keys are used extensively.
  • Let your hands float above the keyboard when you type, and move your entire arm when moving your mouse or typing hard-to-reach keys, keeping the wrist joint straight at all times. This lets the big muscles in your arm, shoulder, and back do most of the work, instead of the smaller, weaker, and more vulnerable muscles in your hand and wrist. If you find it difficult to do this, then your shoulder and back muscles are probably too weak. It is OK, and in fact a good idea, to rest your elbows/wrists when you are not typing.
  • Use two hands to type combination key strokes, such as those involving the SHIFT and CONTROL keys.
  • When writing, avoid gripping the writing utensil tightly. Someone should be able to easily pull the writing utensil out of your hand when you are writing. If your pen or pencil requires you to press too hard, get a new one (my favorite is Dr. Grip Gel Ink).

Article provided by Fit2WRK. The information noted above is a summary of one of the components of Fit2WRK.

Seeing a Physical Therapist After an Accident

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Anyone who has been involved in an accident and is now struggling to cope with a resulting injury should seriously consider visiting a physical therapist. The documented benefits of physical therapy are numerous, and in many cases physical therapists are able to greatly improve their patients’ quality of life. Whether you are mildly hurt or are suffering from a long-term debilitating injury, read on to learn what physical therapy is, which types of accident injuries physical therapists commonly work with, and about the numerous benefits of physical therapy

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is a type of rehabilitation aimed at bringing injured patients back up to their optimal level of health via various treatments and exercises. Physical therapists create patient specific plans designed to enable the patient to perform their daily tasks at the highest possible level of function. While a physical therapist will set different goals for different patients, common goals of therapy include:

  • Improving physical function and movement
  • Decreasing/managing the patient’s pain
  • Preventing re-injury
  • Increasing the patient’s strength, endurance, range of motion and flexibility

Wondering how physical therapy helps achieve these goals? While different therapists may approach these goals in slightly different ways, physical therapy programs rely mostly on progressive exercises and manual therapy in order to reach a patient’s goals. For example, a therapist will generally start you out with simple stretches and gradually work towards more challenging exercises tailored to suit your injury, limitations, and recovery goals. Additionally, manual therapy, such as soft tissue mobilization and joint mobilization, can help decrease a patient’s pain, reduce swelling, and restore motion.

Accident Injuries that Physical Therapists Commonly Work With

While physical therapists are well equipped to assist patients with minor as well as serious injuries, many people who visit a physical therapist in Houston do so because of a long-term debilitating injury that they suffered as a result of a boat, truck, or car accident. For example, physical therapists commonly work with patients who have been involved in an accident and are suffering from:

  • Back and neck pain
  • Arm and shoulder pain
  • Leg and knee pain
  • Foot and ankle injuries
  • Hand injuries
  • Decreased range of motion

car accident

The Benefits of Physical Therapy

Individuals who are injured in an accident often find that attending physical therapy improves their well-being in a number of different ways. While each case and each patient are different, the benefits commonly associated with physical therapy include:

  • Pain Management: Many people who are injured in an accident attend physical therapy primarily in order to reduce or eliminate the pain caused by whiplash, disc herniation, fractures, and other injuries. The therapeutic exercises and manual therapy techniques utilized by physical therapists are often able to help reduce a patient’s pain and allow them to rely less on pain medication.
  • Can Help Avoid Surgery: In some circumstances physical therapy has been known to help a patient avoid having surgery altogether. This can be beneficial as surgeries sometimes involve a lengthy recovery, not to mention the inherent risk of undergoing the surgery itself.
  • Quickens Recovery: Individuals who attend physical therapy after an accident often recover much faster than they otherwise would have. Additionally, these individuals also tend to ultimately achieve better range of motion and muscle strength than those with comparable injuries who did not attend rehab.
  • Helps Prevent Chronic Pain: People injured in car accidents often suffer from chronic pain and other symptoms long after the accident occurred. Additionally, some car accident injuries, if left untreated, will worsen over time. Fortunately, accident victims who promptly attend physical therapy tend to experience much less chronic pain than they otherwise would.

Of course, if you have been injured in a wreck due to another person’s negligence, you may wish to speak with a car accident lawyer for help. Indeed, an attorney can help advocate on your behalf to ensure you receive the compensation necessary to pay for your recovery.

avoiding workplace hazards for feet and hands

Avoiding Workplace Hazards for Feet and Hands

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OSHA Estimates totals for foot and hand types of injuries annually at 320,000 hand and finger injuries, 70,000 eye injuries, 70,000 head and face injuries, and 110,000 foot and toe injuries in 1987. Close to 30% of the total injury base. Sharp or heavy falling objects are the primary sources of foot injuries. So how does one go about avoiding workplace hazards for feet and hands?

To help you get started we have listed out some of the common injuries and actions that lead to workplace injuries of the hand and foot. This is by no means complete as there certainly could be burns or lacerations or multiple levels of sprains/strains in either body area in addition to those noted.

Foot Injuries

One’s feet provide support and movement. Yet, the 26 bones in the human foot can be easily damaged. According to the BLS, 40 laborers suffer disabling injuries to their feet and toes every day. These injuries account for 8.5 percent of all lost-time injuries in the construction industry.

  • Compression – when foot or toe is squeezed between two objects
  • Puncture – when a sharp object like a nail, penetrates the shoe
  • Slipping – loss of traction due to oil, water or chemicals
  • Chemicals/Solvents – may penetrate ordinary safety shoes and can harm feet
  • Temperature Extremes – insulated boots may be necessary, depending on climate
  • Wetness – extended exposure to water may result in discomfort and possible infection
  • Electricity – a danger when using power tools or electric equipment

Some of the most common foot and leg injuries include:

  • Fractures – A fracture of the bones in the leg, foot, or knee may be caused by falling objects or an accidental fall from a height. Some fractures can be treated by using a lightweight cast and crutches, while more serious fractures may require surgery and extensive physical therapy.
  • Knee Tendonitis – Knee Tendonitis is a swelling of the tendons surrounding the knee. Individuals who spend a lot of time walking, standing, or lifting objects while at work are at risk of developing this painful condition. Older individuals are, particularly at risk.
  • Knee Bursitis – Knee Bursitis is a swelling of a fluid sac that provides cushioning for your knee joint. Like tendonitis, bursitis can cause severe pain, inflammation, and loss of mobility.
  • Loss of Limb – The most serious workplace accidents may require amputation. These life-altering accidents can have devastating effects on an individual’s quality of life and ability to work. Amputation cases are especially complicated because they involve issues of retraining, prosthetic replacement, wound care, and home modification. Leg and foot injuries can be among the most devastating for an individual to sustain as well as the most difficult to overcome. Using crutches or a wheelchair can severely limit a person’s mobility, and make it difficult to complete, let alone enjoy, everyday activities at work, at home, and in the community.
    Leg and foot injuries can also make it very difficult, if not impossible, to return to one’s pre-injury employment. Individuals who perform manual labor rely on the use of their legs and feet to perform nearly every aspect of their jobs. Furthermore, many workplaces are also not properly equipped for individuals with limited mobility.

hand injury


Hand Injuries

The hands are an extremely important part of the body and can be damaged in a matter of seconds, leaving a Laborer permanently disabled. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Laborers suffer over 8,600 disabling hand injuries each year, accounting for roughly 18 percent of all disabling injuries.

The most common dangers include:

  • Pinch or crush points
  • Hot surfaces
  • Rotating devices
  • Chemicals
  • Machinery not properly locked out

Some common hand, wrist, and arm injuries that can occur in the workplace include:

  • Fractures – A hand, wrist, or arm fracture can occur due to falling objects or other accidents. Some fractures can be severe and may require extensive reconstructive surgery.
  • Nerve damage – An accident may damage the nerves in the hand and arm, which may cause numbness and pain.
  • Loss of limb – A serious accident may require the amputation of an arm or hand. This serious injury can dramatically affect all aspects of your life. Individuals must relearn how to conduct even simple functions, and while prosthetic limbs can help, they are expensive. Furthermore, approximately 60-80% of amputees experience phantom limb syndrome, causing them to feel sensations such as aching, itching, and burning to emanate from the body part that is no longer there.

In addition to hand and arm injuries that are caused by an accident, many common injuries are caused or worsened by repetitive stress.
These ailments include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome – People with carpal tunnel syndrome experience pain and tingling sensations in their thumbs and fingers. Although the exact cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is unknown, many researchers believe that performing repetitive manual tasks, such as typing on a keyboard, may cause or worsen the condition. Carpal tunnel syndrome may require wrist surgery, steroid injections, or the use of a brace.
  • Repetitive strain injuries – Repetitive strain injuries are characterized by painful sensations while performing a repetitive task, such as lifting heavy objects. These injuries can worsen the more an activity is performed. Injuries to the arm and hand, whether suffered by an accident or through repetitive strain, can permanently impact a person’s life. Even the completion of simple, everyday tasks may become difficult and exhausting, diminishing one’s overall quality of life.

Understanding what the injuries are is the first step in prevention. If you are looking to put protocols in place to help team members avoid workplace hazards for feet and hands, please reach out to a physical therapy clinic that specializes in industrial rehabilitation. They can work with you to improve the safety of the workplace and the employees.

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