The goal of treatment for injuries and conditions of the hand and wrist is to relieve any discomfort you may have and to maintain or improve joint function. Treatment is always based on careful and comprehensive evaluation of the problem and its impact on your life and your ability to perform usual activities.
There are traditional treatments that are often used on the hand and wrist, such as casts, splints, and wraps, and sometimes, surgical intervention.
But treatment for many problems of the hand and wrist has benefited from high tech changes that have revolutionized surgical interventions in all specialty fields, as well as from the introduction of new medications to reduce inflammation and pain.
Endoscopic procedures, which draw upon miniaturization of instruments and fiber-optic visualization, have been proven effective options for such delicate structures as the hand and wrist, just as they have helped improve the efficiency of surgery for other organ systems.
Your doctor will discuss options for your treatment and help you evaluate the effectiveness of planned therapy according to your personal goals and needs.
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Learning ways to prevent stress on your hands and wrists will help protect them. These steps may include hand and wrist splints to immobilize the joints while they rest or to support the joints while you work. If hand function is diminished, an occupational therapist may be consulted to learn adaptations in the home that will help reduce the work and stress on the joints. Special silverware, clothing, writing utensils, and other tools used in the home can be adapted for easier use.
A variety of over-the-counter medications can be effective in relieving moderate pain in the joints and wrists. Tylenol, or acetaminophen, and ibuprofen are examples. Some over-the-counter topical ointments may also be helpful. If these mild analgesics are not effective in treating joint pain, the next choice of medications may be a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) prescribed by your doctor. In some cases, corticosteroids are injected into the joint to decrease swelling and pain. These are primarily used as a temporary treatment for an occasional flare-up of severe inflammation.
If the discomfort you are feeling becomes severe or begins to interfere with activities, you need to talk with your physician who can explore other, possibly more involved treatment options.
Your doctor can refer you to an occupational therapist to develop an exercise plan for hand strengthening. Click here to view some of the rehabilitation exercises commonly prescribed by our physicians.
Surgery is often used as a treatment alternative when other more have failed to alleviate pain or are ineffective in treating the condition. Frequently hand and wrist pain can be decreased, function improved, and deformities resolved. Recent advances in replacing joints and fusing bones together have also shown significant promise.