We use our hands countless times throughout the day. From simple tasks to complex movements, our hands are always hard at work. Unfortunately, over time, these repetitive movements can affect the inner structures in your hands, causing pain and injury.
Treatments For Hand Pain
One cause of hand pain is tendonitis or inflammation of the tendon. The tendon is a connective tissue connecting your muscles to your bones. The two main types of hand tendons are called flexor and extensor. Flexor tendons run along the palm side and allow the fingers to bend inward, while extensor tendons stretch along the back of the hand and make it possible for the fingers to straighten.
When these tendons get irritated and inflamed due to repeated stress, it can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and tenderness that reduce hand function. If the irritation persists, you may have a degenerative, painful condition known as tendinitis. If left untreated, the tendons may rupture or break.
Fortunately, there are simple fixes to relieve hand pain. Below are the most common treatment options for hand pain caused by tendonitis.
For minor cases of tendinitis, all you need to do is to give your hands a break. During this time, refrain from putting excessive strain on the affected hand. If you play a sport that involves repeated hand motions, it’s best to take a break from playing.
Your doctor may ask you to wear a hand splint to give the tendons time to heal and limit movement. If hand pain strikes, apply a cold compress to the injured area for 20 minutes.
While rest is vital to healing, you don’t want to keep the hand immobilized for too long, since it can cause joint stiffness and muscle weakness. After a few days of rest, move your hands gently to maintain flexibility and range of motion.
You can take over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce painful symptoms from tendinitis. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may recommend more potent medications. Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions when taking medications.
In some cases, your doctor may recommend corticosteroid or steroid injections. These medications are directly injected into the affected tendon to reduce inflammation and provide quick pain relief.
While corticosteroid injections may be more powerful and fast-acting than oral medications, prolonged use is not recommended. Your doctor is not likely to recommend corticosteroid injections for tendinitis that lasts more than three months. Repeated injections may weaken the tendon and raise the risk of rupturing altogether.
Physical therapy refers to non-drug techniques that aim to relieve pain and restore function after a musculoskeletal injury.
Your physical therapist will design a customized exercise program to stretch and strengthen the tendon and surrounding structures. Eccentric strengthening, a form of exercise that emphasizes muscle contraction during lengthening, has been shown to improve tendon-related conditions. Physical therapy can maximize the range of motion in joints and reduce trauma on tight tissues.
While most cases of tendinitis respond to non-surgical treatments, your doctor may recommend hand surgery if symptoms persist, especially if the tendon ruptures.
The type of surgery will depend on the extent of the damage. During the procedure, your orthopedic surgeon will make a small incision in your wrist. This incision allows them to access the tendon. From there, they will remove swollen tissue inside the sheath, freeing up more space for the tendon to move in.
For cases where the tendon has ruptured, your hand surgeon will stitch back the ends of the damaged tendon together. Most surgeries for tendinitis are on an outpatient basis, which means you can go home on the same day.
After surgery, you will need to go through physical therapy. Your physical therapist will walk you through exercises and stretches to regain strength, flexibility, and mobility, and to prevent re-injury.
Tendonitis Treatment in North Dakota
Most cases of tendinitis tend to resolve themselves in a few days with rest and home remedies. You can also take simple steps to prevent tendinitis from reoccurring, like using proper form or technique in hand movements. If hand pain persists despite conservative treatment, it’s best to seek professional help.
For comprehensive hand and wrist care, visit The Bone & Joint Center today. Our orthopedic specialists can diagnose and treat all kinds of hand-related problems, including tendinitis and arthritis in the hands. We make sure to customize our treatment based on your unique needs. Should you require surgery, our very own Dr. Duncan Ackerman can perform all types of hand and upper extremity surgeries.
To schedule an appointment with our bone and joint experts, call us today at (800) 424-2663. We have several locations across North Dakota to serve all your orthopedic needs. Give us a call today, and let us help you find long-lasting relief from hand pain!