Causes, Symptoms & Treatments of Wrist Fractures

Article featured on the American Society for Surgery of the Hand

A wrist fracture is a medical term for a broken wrist. The wrist is made up of eight small bones which connect with the two long forearm bones called the radius and ulna. Although a broken wrist can happen in any of these 10 bones, by far the most common bone to break is the radius. This is called a distal radius fracture by hand surgeons.

Some wrist fractures are stable. “Non-displaced” breaks, in which the bones do not move out of place initially, can be stable. Some “displaced” breaks (which need to be put back into the right place, called “reduction” or “setting”) also can be stable enough to treat in a cast or splint. Other fractures are unstable. In unstable fractures, even if the bones are put back into position and a cast is placed, the bone pieces tend to move or shift into a bad position before they solidly heal. This can make the wrist appear crooked.

Some fractures are more severe than others. Fractures that break apart the smooth joint surface or fractures that shatter into many pieces (comminuted fractures) may make the bone unstable. These severe types of fractures often require surgery to restore and hold their alignment. An open fracture occurs when a fragment of bone breaks and is forced out through the skin. This can cause an increased risk of infection in the bone.

Causes

A wrist fracture occurs from an injury such as falling down onto an outstretched hand. Severe trauma such as car accidents, motorcycle accidents or falls from a ladder cause more severe injuries. Weak bones (for example, in osteoporosis) tend to break more easily.

Signs and Symptoms

When the wrist is broken, there is pain and swelling. It can be hard to move or use the hand and wrist. Some people can still move or use the hand or wrist even if there is a broken bone. Swelling or a bone out of place can make the wrist appear deformed. There is often pain right around the break and with finger movement. Sometimes the fingers tingle or feel numb at the tips.

Diagnosis

Your hand surgeon will do a physical examination and obtain x-rays to see if there is a broken bone. Sometimes, tests such as a CT scan or MRI scan may be needed to get better detail of the fracture fragments and other injuries. Ligaments (the soft tissues that hold the bones together), tendons, muscles and nerves may also be injured when the wrist is broken. These injuries may need to be treated also.

Treatment

Treatment depends on many factors, including:

  • Type of fracture, whether it is displaced, unstable or open
  • Your age, job, hobbies, activity level, and whether it is your “dominant” hand
  • Your overall general health
  • Presence of other injuries

A padded splint might be worn at first in order to align the bones and support the wrist to provide some relief from the initial pain. If the fracture is not too unstable, a cast may be used to hold a fracture that has been set. Other fractures may benefit from surgery to put the broken bones back together and hold them in correct place.

Fractures may be fixed with many devices. Pins, screws, plates, rods or external fixation can all be used. A small camera might be used to help visualize the joint from the inside. Sometimes the bone is so severely crushed that there is a gap in the bone once it has been realigned. In these cases, a bone graft may be added to help the healing process. Your hand surgeon will discuss the options that are best for your healing and recovery.

Recovery

During recovery, it is very important to keep your fingers moving to keep them from getting stiff. Your hand surgeon will have you start moving your wrist at the right time for your fracture. Hand therapy is often helpful to recover motion, strength and function.

Recovery time varies and depends on a lot of factors. It is not unusual for recovery to take months. Even then, some patients may have stiffness or aching. Severe wrist fractures can result in arthritis in the joint. Occasionally, additional treatment or surgery is needed.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Why Does RA Often Occur in the Joints of the Hands?

Article featured on MedicalNewsToday

In people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the immune system attacks healthy tissues in the lining of the joints. It often affects the hands, wrists, and feet. Over time, these joints can become stiff and deformed. Here’s why RA often affects these areas, along with treatments that may help prevent and treat pain.

Why does RA affect the hand joints?

RA tends to affect many joints at once. Often, symptoms first appear in the small joints of the middle fingers and in the bases of the hands and toes. It usually occurs in the same joints on both sides of the body.

RA may affect small joints in the hands first because there are many more joints in the hands than in other parts of the body.

The hands have 29 joints each. These joints are supported by a complex network of muscles, ligaments, and tendons that has evolved to perform complex tasks.

In people with RA, the immune system attacks and causes inflammation in the joint lining, or synovium. The synovium produces a fluid that lubricates the cartilage covering the ends of bones, allowing the bones to glide smoothly against each other when a person bends the joint.

A person with RA may experience symptoms such as pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. Over time, chronic inflammation in the joints may cause the cartilage to gradually wear away.

The condition may also progress to larger joints, such as the knees, ankles, or elbows.

In addition to affecting the joints, RA can cause inflammation that can also impact a person’s:

  • heart
  • lungs
  • eye
  • kidneys
  • skin

Common symptoms

Some research suggests that RA has a slow onset in more than 50% of cases.

Around 25% of people have abrupt RA onset. Experts believe that it is linked to gum inflammation from bacteria called Porphyromonas gingivalis. People will not experience gum inflammation or gingivitis (gum disease) from this infection unless they smoke.

RA is progressive, which means that the symptoms get worse over time. Treatments such as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help slow the progression of RA but cannot cure the condition.

Early signs and symptoms of RA include tenderness, pain, swelling, or stiffness in joints that:

  • affect more than one joint
  • usually start in small joints, such as the hands, wrists, or feet
  • affect the same places on both sides of the body
  • last for at least 6 weeks
  • may be accompanied by stiffness in the morning for 30 minutes or longer

The fingers may appear swollen, like sausages. Inflammation can eventually cause irregularities in the joints and an inability to properly bend or straighten these joints.

Some other common symptoms of RA include:

  • weight loss
  • fever
  • weakness
  • fatigue

Over time, inflammation can affect other parts of the body, leading to symptoms such as:

  • dryness, pain, and inflammation in the eyes
  • sensitivity to light
  • small bumps in the skin over bones called rheumatoid nodules
  • shortness of breath
  • a dry mouth
  • gum inflammation or infection
  • a low red blood cell count

Home remedies

Home remedies do not replace medical treatments such as DMARDs, which can help slow the progression of RA. A person should never stop or change their prescribed treatment plan before speaking with a doctor.

Several home remedies may help alleviate pain, swelling, or stiffness in the joints due to RA. These remedies include:

  • heating pads or warm baths, to loosen up stiff joints
  • ice packs, to relieve joint pain and swelling
  • meditation and deep breathing techniques, to help a person relax and take their mind off the pain
  • acupuncture
  • massage
  • splints for the fingers or wrists
  • assistive devices, such as ergonomic keyboards or jar openers
  • lotions with capsaicin, to help relieve localized pain

The following supplements have limited scientific evidence proving their benefits but are worth bringing up with a doctor:

  • cannabidiol (CBD) products
  • fish oil
  • turmeric
  • glucosamine
  • probiotics

Making certain dietary changes can also reduce inflammation throughout the body and help a person lose weight. This may help relieve RA symptoms. Having an anti-inflammatory diet includes eating:

  • less sugar
  • fewer processed foods
  • less red meat
  • less full fat dairy
  • more fresh fruits
  • more vegetables
  • whole grains
  • lean meat
  • fish
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • seeds

Some people with RA may find that avoiding gluten or eating more fermented foods, such as yogurt and sauerkraut, helps with symptoms.

A person should always talk with a doctor before trying any new supplements or making any major dietary changes.

Exercises

For people with RA hand pain, exercise may improve the symptoms and maintain joint mobility and function.

Some research suggests that performing therapist-recommended hand exercises may improve grip and hand function while also relieving RA symptoms.

A 2018 study in 841 people with RA suggests that hand exercises may improve mobility and function. The study also concludes that performing a hand exercise routine likely does not relieve pain or improve a person’s grip and strength in the short or long term.

  • Here are three simple hand exercises that a person can try:
  • Gently squeeze a small, squishy ball or a stress ball.
  • Place the hand out flat with the palm up. Bend each finger, one by one, into the palm. Hold, release, and repeat.
  • Place the hand flat on a table. Lift one finger off of the surface and release it back down. Repeat with each finger, one by one.
  • Getting regular, gentle, full body exercise helps increase strength and range of motion in the joints, which can improve daily functioning. It also helps a person maintain a moderate weight, which can improve RA symptoms.

A person should aim to incorporate the following into their routine:

  • cardiovascular exercises, such as walking or swimming
  • full body strengthening exercises
  • light stretching

Some exercise is always better than none. Although feeling some discomfort is OK, a person should stop exercising if they feel significant pain.

When to talk with a doctor

A person should talk with a doctor if they experience any early symptoms of RA, including:

  • persistent pain or stiffness in the joints
  • joints that are warm to the touch
  • difficulty moving or engaging in daily activities

For people who already have a diagnosis of and treatment plan for RA, a doctor visit is warranted if they:

  • experience any new symptoms
  • feel that their treatments are no longer managing their symptoms
  • develop any side effects from their medications

A person should also talk with a doctor before starting new supplements or a new diet. Also, they should always talk with a doctor before changing or discontinuing their medications.

  • A person should ask questions of their care team as needed. The team will often consist of the following healthcare professionals:
  • a primary care physician
  • a rheumatologist, who will specialize in treating musculoskeletal conditions such as RA
  • a rheumatology nurse, who can help educate the person about RA
  • a physical therapist, to help with mobility issues and teach hand exercises
  • an occupational therapist, to share devices and techniques that help a person live with their symptoms and go about their daily tasks
  • a mental health professional, to help with stress and anxiety, which are more common in people with RA
  • an orthopedic surgeon, to correct joint damage with surgery as necessary

The takeaway

RA is an autoimmune condition that affects many joints in the body. The condition causes the immune system to attack the lining in the joints, causing pain and swelling. Because there are many joints in the hands, people usually experience the first symptoms of RA in their hands.

Medications such as DMARDs help slow the progression of the condition. Several home remedies can also help manage the symptoms. Hand exercises may improve hand mobility, while full body exercise may relieve the symptoms and improve overall well-being.

A person’s healthcare team can help determine the best treatment plan to manage pain and improve functioning.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

How to Treat a Broken Finger Tip

Article featured on American Society for Hand Surgery

The finger tip is one of the most commonly injured areas of the upper extremity because we use our finger tips in so many daily activities. Your finger tip can be injured in a variety of different ways, including being crushed by a door, hit with a hammer, getting stuck under a heavy object, or cut with a knife.

While some finger tip injuries may be minor, others can be more severe. You can the bone, nail bed, tendons or even the nerve endings, which allow you to have sensation in the finger tips. Here’s how to treat a finger tip injury, depending on the severity:

  • Dressing (a gauze wrapping or tape): Dressings can treat more minor finger tip injuries, such as when just the skin is affected or if there is a small amount of bone exposed.
  • Splints or metal pins: These can be used if you’re suffering from a broken finger tip. The metal pins will hold the bone fragments in the proper position.
  • Drainage: If blood is collecting under your nail, your hand specialist may make a small hole in the nail to drain it.
  • Surgery or amputation: These treatment options are reserved for more severe nail bed injuries.

Regardless of which treatment you receive, it’s important to remember that your finger tip may never look or feel the same after an injury, especially a severe one.

Your treatment plan will vary based on your specific circumstances. Visit a hand specialist as soon as you’ve injured your finger tip to determine the best plan. The sooner you receive treatment, the better. Delaying treatment may result in loss of feeling in your finger tip.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

5 Causes of Thumb Pain

Article featured on American Society for Surgery on the Hand

The thumb is involved in about 50% of all hand functions. When the thumb is painful or injured, it becomes very difficult to use the hand. During normal life, we take our thumbs for granted. When the thumb is not working properly, tasks are more difficult, and we then realize how important the thumb is. There are several causes of thumb pain including:

  1. Trigger thumb
  2. Arthritis
  3. Tendonitis
  4. Carpal tunnel syndrome
  5. Skier’s thumb.

Read below to learn more.

1. Trigger thumb

The tendon that bends or flexes the thumb is called the flexor pollicis longus (FPL). If there is swelling or inflammation around the thumb tendon, it will not glide smoothly. Sometimes the tendon gets stuck in the thumb pulley, causing the thumb joint to click, catch, or lock. This is called a trigger thumb. The thumb can also become swollen, stiff, and very painful. Treatment includes rest, anti-inflammatory medications, splinting, and steroid injections. Most patients improve without surgery. If symptoms persist with treatment, trigger thumb release surgery is very effective and has low risks.

2. Thumb arthritis

The human thumb is unique. We can touch the tip of the thumb to the small finger — a function called opposition. Most animals do not have an “opposable” thumb. This gives us the ability to write, use a needle and thread, and use hand tools. The joint at the base of the thumb which allows opposition is called the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint. Normal, every day activities can cause wear and tear in the thumb CMC joint. When the joint wears out, it can become inflamed and painful. This process is called osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease.

Anyone can get osteoarthritis if they live long enough. So far, we have not found a way to prevent osteoarthritis. Wear and tear is part of the normal aging process. However, the symptoms of osteoarthritis can be treated by reducing inflammation in the joint. Ways to reduce inflammation and treat thumb CMC osteoarthritis include topical anti-inflammatory gels, oral over-the-counter medications, adjusting hand activities, using a thumb splint, and steroid injections. Most patients improve without surgery. If symptoms persist with treatment, thumb CMC surgery can greatly improve quality of life.

3. DeQuervain’s tendonitis

The tendons in the wrist that lift the thumb up are prone to tendonitis. These tendons travel through a tight compartment on the thumb side of the wrist. If there is friction on the tendons, they can become inflamed and very painful. This is classic in young mothers, and is sometimes called mommy’s thumb. Treatment consists of splinting, anti-inflammatory medications, therapy, and steroid injections. DeQuervain’s release surgery is occasionally necessary to resolve this condition.

4. Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of pinched nerve. When the nerve is pinched in the carpal tunnel, patients have numbness and tingling in the thumb, index, middle, and/or ring fingers. Initially symptoms come and go, and are often worse at night. Some patients feel electric shock sensations or burning pain in their thumbs. In severe cases, the thumb muscles can become weak and atrophied. Treatment for most patients includes wearing a wrist brace at night, stretching exercises, hand therapy, and steroid injections. Carpal tunnel surgery is very effective for most patients if non-operative treatment is not successful or if nerve compression is severe.

5. Skier’s thumb

Trauma to the thumb is common. During a fall, most people land on an outstretched hand to brace themselves. Unfortunately the ligaments in the thumb can become injured in this way. The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the thumb is vulnerable to tearing as the thumb is bent backwards and away from the hand. If this ligament does not heal properly, patients can have pain and weakness with pinch tasks. For most minor sprains of the thumb, temporary immobilization in a splint or cast is successful to allow healing. If the ulnar collateral ligament is fully torn, however, surgery is usually recommended to fix the injury. Hand therapy is often helpful during the recovery process to regain range of motion and strength.

If you have an injury to your hand or thumb, or pain which does not go away with conservative treatment, make an appointment with a hand specialist to get an accurate diagnosis and good treatment plan.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

What is Cubital and Radial Tunnel Syndrome?

Article featured on WebMD

Cubital tunnel syndrome and radial tunnel syndrome aren’t as familiar as their better-known relative — carpal tunnel syndrome — but they also can cause severe pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the hands and arms.
The common cause of all these nerve compression syndromes is increased pressure — usually from bone or connective tissue — on a nerve in the wrist, arm, or elbow. In most cases, cubital tunnel syndrome and radial tunnel syndrome can be managed with conservative treatments. But more severe cases may require surgery to reduce pressure on the affected nerve.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: Causes and Symptoms

Cubital tunnel syndrome — also known as ulnar neuropathy — is caused by increased pressure on the ulnar nerve, which passes close to the skin’s surface in the area of the elbow commonly known as the “funny bone.” You’re more likely to develop cubital tunnel syndrome if you:

  • Repeatedly lean on your elbow, especially on a hard surface
  • Bend your elbow for sustained periods, such as while talking on a cell phone or sleeping with your hand crooked under your pillow
Sometimes, cubital tunnel syndrome results from abnormal bone growth in the elbow or from intense physical activity that increases pressure on the ulnar nerve. Baseball pitchers, for example, have an increased risk of cubital tunnel syndrome, because the twisting motion required to throw a slider can damage delicate ligaments in the elbow.
Early symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include:

  • Pain and numbness in the elbow
  • Tingling, especially in the ring and little fingers

More severe symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include:

  • Weakness affecting the ring and little fingers
  • Decreased ability to pinch the thumb and little finger
  • Decreased overall hand grip
  • Muscle wasting in the hand
  • Claw-like deformity of the hand

If you have any of these symptoms, your doctor may be able to diagnose cubital tunnel syndrome by physical examination alone. They also may order a nerve conduction study and a test called electromyography. Electromyography is a procedure in which electrodes placed into muscles and on the skin measure the health of muscles and the nerve cells that control them, to confirm the diagnosis, identify the area of nerve damage, and determine the severity of the condition.

Radial Tunnel Syndrome: Causes and Symptoms

Radial tunnel syndrome is caused by increased pressure on the radial nerve, which runs by the bones and muscles of the forearm and elbow. Causes include:

  • Injury
  • Noncancerous fatty tumors (lipomas)
  • Bone tumors
  • Inflammation of surrounding tissue

Symptoms of radial tunnel syndrome include:

  • Cutting, piercing, or stabbing pain at the top of the forearm or back of the hand, especially when you try to straighten your wrist and fingers.

In contrast to cubital tunnel syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome, radial tunnel syndrome rarely causes numbness or tingling, because the radial nerve principally affects the muscles.
Just as with cubital tunnel syndrome, if you have any of these symptoms, your doctor may be able to diagnose radial tunnel syndrome by physical examination alone. They also may order electromyography to confirm the diagnosis, identify the area of nerve damage, and stage the severity of the condition.

Treatments for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome and Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome often can be managed conservatively, especially if electromyography reveals that there is minimal pressure on the ulnar nerve.

Mild cases of cubital tunnel syndrome often respond to physical therapies such as:

  • Avoidance of undue pressure on the elbow during daily activities
  • Wearing a protective elbow pad over the “funny bone” during daily activities
  • Wearing a splint during sleep to prevent over-bending of the elbow

In cases where splinting doesn’t help or nerve compression is more severe, about 85% of patients respond to some form of surgery to release pressure on the ulnar nerve. These include surgeries that:

  • Result in simple decompression of the ulnar nerve
  • Shift the nerve to the front of the elbow
  • Move the nerve under a layer of fat, under the muscle, or within the muscle
  • Trim the bump of the inner portion of the elbow — the medial epicondyle — under which the ulnar nerve passes

If you undergo surgery for cubital tunnel syndrome, recovery may involve restrictions on lifting and elbow movement, and rehabilitation therapy. Although numbness and tingling may or may not quickly improve, recovery of hand and wrist strength may take several months.

Conservative treatments for radial tunnel syndrome include medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce soft tissue swelling, corticosteroid injections to relieve inflammation and pressure on the radial nerve, and wrist and/or elbow splints to reduce irritation of the radial nerve.
Some patients also may benefit from ergonomic education to reduce the effects of repetitive stress, nerve-gliding exercises, stretching/strengthening exercises, and other interventions such as heat, cold, and ultrasound.
If these conservative measures fail to provide relief after three months, your doctor may consider surgery to reduce pressure on the radial nerve. Surgery is often recommended in severe cases, particularly those in which the wrist becomes weak or droopy or it becomes difficult to extend the fingers.

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.
New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.
Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.
If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Hand and Wrist Pain: What to Do?

Article featured on verywellfit,   

Office work is well known for being detrimental to people’s backs due to prolonged periods of sitting. But, there’s another body part that excessive typing, texting, scrolling, and mouse-clicking wreak havoc on, too—the hands and wrists.

Hand and wrist pain is a notable side effect of office work that many people assume they have to live with. Thankfully, there are actually numerous ways to lessen office-work-induced hand and wrist pain, and ways to help prevent it.

Let’s look at why hand and wrist pain are so prevalent and what you can do about it.

Common Causes And Effects of Hand And Wrist Pain

There is an abundance of hand movement repetition in the tasks for office work, with the main activities performed being typing, scrolling or clicking with a mouse, and texting on a cell phone.

When we type, we use our fingers in an unnatural way, and we often keep them hovered awkwardly above the keyboard for prolonged periods of time. This puts stress on our wrists, and the typing itself overworks our fingers far more than anything else we generally do in life.

When we overuse our hands and wrists by typing, our bodies are put at risk of developing numerous conditions. These include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Trigger finger
  • Wrist tendonitis
  • Repetitive strain (or stress) injury

These effects are usually not permanent, but they can be very painful. Once you have frequent hand and wrist pain from typing, other activities in your life, such as exercise or sports, or even opening doors, might also be affected.

Additionally, the prolonged inflammation in your hands and wrists can lead to arthritis in coming years.

Ways to Reduce Hand and Wrist Pain

In addition to life being better when you’re not in pain, it’s important to take steps to prevent that potential occurrence too. Luckily, there are numerous actions you can take to prevent your hand and wrist pain from worsening.

Pausing to stretch your hands and wrists can help bring back flexibility and can improve the blood flow that may be impacted by a lack of arm movement.

If you notice that stretching your hands and wrists reduces your pain, you may opt to stretch briefly every hour or two. In the same way as it’s a good idea to get up and stand every hour to break up your sitting, it’s a good idea to keep your hands and wrists flexible as you use them throughout the day.
Wrist Stretching
Stretching your wrists is an easy way to reduce the pain in them caused by typing. Some examples of wrist stretches you can try are below:

  • Raise and lower your hands in a “stop” position with your arms outstretched in front of you.
  • Make and hold a fist.
  • Rotate your hand up and down while making a fist.

Hand and Finger Stretching

Stretching our hands and fingers isn’t something we tend to think a lot about unless we’re doing a sport that involves gripping, but it can be very helpful in reducing the pain from typing and texting all day.

Here are some ways to stretch your hands and fingers:

  • Straighten your fingers and palms flat against a surface and hold this position for thirty seconds.
  • Bend your fingertips down to make a bear claw shape and hold for 30 seconds.
  • Straighten your fingers and palm on a surface and slowly lift and lower each finger and thumb individually.
It can also be helpful to use a grip strengthener. To use one for hand stretching, you’ll hold it in your hands, squeeze, hold briefly, and release. This act of squeezing and relaxing helps to loosen the muscles. Grips strengtheners can also be used to reduce tension.

Strengthening Exercises

You don’t need a whole workout for your hands and wrists, but taking the time to strengthen this part of your body can have the effect of less pain due to overuse. You don’t need any gym equipment for these exercises.

Use Household Items

There are numerous household items that can be used to help strengthen your hands and wrists such as:

  • Rubber bands
  • Towels
  • A hammer

Exercises using those items can be done in just a few short minutes and are very simple, such as putting a rubber band around your fingers and then pushing your fingers out against it.

Wrist Curls

Unlike the small and simple moves with household items, wrist curls are a more common move for actual exercise workouts.

They can be beneficial to your hands and wrists as well as your forearms, which is the part they’re best known for strengthening.

The goal for this exercise isn’t to get sore, as it might be for some people when they use weights, but too slowly and gradually build strength so that your hands and wrists are in the best possible condition for the daily activities they perform.

Home Remedies For Pain

There are many inexpensive and easy ways to manage pain by reducing inflammation. You could take an over-the-counter pain reducer, which serves to temporarily lower inflammation, or try one of the following remedies below.

Heat and Cold

Alternating between hot and cold treatments through the use of a heating pad and an ice pack can lower inflammation while also providing temporary relief from pain. In the same way that you’d use heat and cold to relieve a sports injury, you can do the same for hand and wrist pain caused by overuse.

Turmeric

This Ayurvedic root is well proven to relieve pain and inflammation. It has been used for millennia and is an incredibly effective natural pain reliever.

With a bright golden color and a mild flavor, you can use ground turmeric in your meals, drink shots of the fresh juice, or make it into a tea.

Ginger

Also an Ayurvedic root used for many generations as a pain and inflammation reducer, ginger has been proven effective for relieving symptoms of arthritis.

Similarly to turmeric, you can use ginger as a dried spice in your cooking, make a tea from the root or powder, or drink fresh juice shots.

Reduce Systemic Inflammation With Everyday Activities

When you make efforts to reduce inflammation, it won’t only be your hands and wrists that will thank you.

Reducing systemic inflammation improves health overall and helps lower your risk for an assortment of illnesses.

There are many ways to go about reducing inflammation on a daily basis. Some you can try include yoga, eating fewer inflammatory foods, managing stress, and getting a sufficient amount of sleep.

How to Prevent Hand and Wrist Pain

Now that you know of ways to reduce the wrist and hand pain you may already have, it’s helpful to know how to keep it gone once you get rid of it.

In addition to taking steps to lower inflammation in your body, and stretching and strengthening your wrists, proper positioning when typing and the use of wrist and hand supports can lower the chances of your pain returning.

Positioning

When sitting to type, start by making sure you’re using a supportive chair that allows for good posture. Having your back straight will assist with the positioning of your arms and wrists. You’ll want to keep your hands hovered lightly over the keyboard, not resting on it, and your fingers curved over the keys.

If you aren’t able to find a comfortable position, you can try a keyboard with a different shape than the one you currently use.

Cushioning

In addition to choosing a keyboard that feels comfortable for your hands, you may find extra comfort in a mouse cushion and a keyboard cushion.

Though a mouse cushion can be used while you are actively using your mouse, a keyboard cushion should only be used when you are paused on typing. That’s because if you use it while you’re typing, you’ll be pushing your wrists up at a sharp angle.

Utilize a keyboard cushion while scrolling with your mouse, taking a brief break in typing, or reading.

Wrist Support Products

There are several types of products that provide support to your hands and wrists. In order to find one that allows you enough mobility while simultaneously providing sufficient support, you may need to try a few on.

Support options for hands and wrists include stabilizers, wraps, and braces.

Your wrists and hands may be in pain, but they don’t have to be! Try one or more of these suggestions to keep yourself pain free, no matter how much you type.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.
New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.
Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.
If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Everything You Should Know About Repetitive Strain Injury

Everything You Should Know About Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

Article Featured on Healthline.com

What is repetitive strain injury?

A repetitive strain injury (RSI), sometimes referred to as repetitive stress injury, is a gradual buildup of damage to muscles, tendons, and nerves from repetitive motions. RSIs are common and may be caused by many different types of activities, including:

  • using a computer mouse
  • typing
  • swiping items at a supermarket checkout
  • grasping tools
  • working on an assembly line
  • training for sports

Some common RSIs are:

Keep reading to learn more about this type of injury.

What are the symptoms of RSI?

RSI frequently affects your:

  • wrists and hands
  • forearms and elbows
  • neck and shoulders

Other areas of your body can also be affected.

Symptoms include:

  • pain, ranging from mild to severe
  • tenderness
  • swelling
  • stiffness
  • tingling or numbness
  • throbbing
  • weakness
  • sensitivity to cold or heat

Symptoms may begin gradually and then become constant and more intense. Even with initial treatment, symptoms may limit your ability to perform your usual activities.

What are causes and risk factors for RSI?

RSI can occur when you do repetitive movements. Those movements can cause your muscles and tendons to become damaged over time.

Some activities that can increase your risk for RSI are:

  • stressing the same muscles through repetition
  • maintaining the same posture for long periods of time
  • maintaining an abnormal posture for an extended period of time, such as holding your arms over your head
  • lifting heavy objects
  • being in poor physical condition or not exercising enough

Previous injuries or conditions, such as a rotator cuff tear or an injury to your wrist, back, or shoulder, can also predispose you to RSI.

Desk jobs are not the only occupations whose workers are at risk for RSI. Other occupations that involve repetitive movements and may increase your risk include:

  • dental hygienists
  • construction workers who use power tools
  • cleaners
  • cooks
  • bus drivers
  • musicians

How is RSI diagnosed?

If you have even mild discomfort completing certain tasks on your job or at home, it’s a good idea to see your doctor to talk about RSI. Your doctor will ask you questions about your work and other activities to try to identify any repetitive movements you do. They’ll also ask about your work environment, such as whether you work at a computer or have an ergonomic work station. They’ll do a physical exam as well. During the exam, they’ll perform range of motion tests and check for tenderness, inflammation, reflexes, and strength in the affected area.

Your doctor may also order magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound to assess tissue damage. An electromyography (EMG) may be ordered to check on nerve damage.

For mild damage, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist. If the damage is severe, they may also refer you to a specialist or surgeon.

How is RSI treated?

The initial treatment for RSI symptoms is conservative. This may include:

  • RICE, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), both oral and topical
  • steroid injections
  • exercises, which may be prescribed as part of a physical therapy treatment plan
  • stress reduction and relaxation training
  • wrapping the area or securing it with a splint to protect and rest the muscles and tendons

Your doctor and physical therapist can also suggest adjustments to your work station, such as readjusting your chair and desk if you work at a computer, or modifications to your movements and equipment to minimize muscle strain and stress.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary.

What’s the outlook for RSI?

Your outlook with RSI depends on the severity of your symptoms and your general health. You may be able to use conservative measures to modify your work routine and minimize pain and damage. Or, you may have to stop certain tasks at work for a while to rest the affected area. If other measures don’t work, your doctor may recommend surgery for specific problems involving nerves and tendons.

Tips for preventing RSI

If you sit at a desk, follow the traditional advice from parents and teachers: Sit up straight and don’t slouch! Good posture is the key to avoiding unnecessary stress on your muscles. This takes practice and mindfulness. There are also many exercises you can do to improve your posture.

  • Adjust your work station to promote good posture and comfort.
  • Sit in a chair that gives you support for your lower back and keep your feet flat on the floor or on a foot rest. Your thighs should be parallel to the ground, and your hands, wrists, and forearms should be aligned. Your elbows should be in line with your keyboard to avoid strain.
  • Avoid sitting cross-legged.
  • If possible, spend some of your computer time at a standing desk. Slowly increase the amount of time you stand, aiming for 20–30 minutes each hour or more.
  • Place your computer monitor about an arm’s length away from you. The screen should be at eye level so you’re looking straight ahead.
  • If you’re on the phone a lot, use a headset to avoid straining your neck, shoulders, and arms.

Taking frequent breaks from your desk throughout the day is as important as having an ergonomic workstation.

  • get up to stretch or walk around
  • do shoulder stretches at your desk
  • march in place
  • wiggle your fingers and flex your wrists

Those may sound like little things, but mini breaks can make a big difference in preventing RSI.

If your work is not at a desk, the same principles apply. Maintain good posture, figure out the least stressful positions for the repetitive tasks required, and take frequent mini breaks. If you have to stand a lot, use an antifatigue mat. Use extension poles for cleaning tools to avoid straining your arms, and lift heavy loads properly. If you use tools, take breaks throughout the day to stretch and flex your fingers and wrists.

Most occupations have been studied in detail and have guidelines for reducing worker stress while doing specific tasks. The National Education Association, for example, has a handbook on RSI that provides tips for teachers, drivers, food workers, custodians, and others.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Most Common Hand and Wrist Injuries

Most Common Hand and Wrist Injuries

Article Featured on Bidneeham.org

While hand and wrist injuries are very common, some athletes never seek treatment. Unfortunately, delaying the diagnosis and treatment may result in long-term problems or even a permanent disability. Here is a list of some of the most common injuries athletes experience.

Sprains

Sprains are damage to ligaments. A ligament is a type of tissue that connects bone to bone. There are different grades of sprain from a minor tear to complete rupture. Treatment and recovery time will depend on grade of sprain.

Thumb Sprains

Breaking a fall with the palm of your hand or taking a spill on the slopes with your hand strapped to a ski pole could leave you with a painful thumb injury. The ulnar collateral ligament may be sprained. This ligament acts like a hinge and helps your thumb to function properly. If you sprain your thumb, you could lose some or all of your ability to grasp items between your thumb and index finger or to grasp well with the entire hand.

Wrist Sprains

When you fall forward, as when you trip running or rollerblading, your natural response is to put your hands out in front of you to catch yourself. Unfortunately, this natural response causes you to land on your palm, bending your wrist backwards, and possibly stretching or tearing the ligaments connecting the bones in your wrist. The resulting injury is a wrist sprain.

Injuries to the Bone

Bones can be fractured and dislocated. A fracture is a crack or break in a bone. It is commonly referred to as broken bone. A dislocation is when a bone is pushed out of place so that they no longer line up correctly at the joint. This can decrease the ability to move and cause pain.

Hand Fractures

Fractures of the metacarpals (the bones in your hand just before your knuckles) and your phalanges (the bones between the joints of your fingers) are also common sports injuries.

Finger Fractures

The most common fracture of the metacarpals is a boxer’s fracture. A boxer’s fracture usually occurs when you strike an object with your closed fist. With a boxer’s fracture, the fifth metacarpal joint (the one at the base of your littlest finger) is depressed and the surrounding tissue is tender and swollen.

Wrist Fractures

Scaphoid fractures account for many wrist fractures. The scaphoid bone is one of eight small bones that make up the wrist. Wrist fractures are common both in sports and motor vehicle accidents. The break usually occurs during a fall on the outstretched wrist. The angle at which the wrist hits the ground may determine the type of injury. The more the wrist is bent back (extension), the more likely the scaphoid bone will break. With less wrist extension it is more likely the lower arm bone (radius) will break.

Scaphoid fractures are not always immediately obvious. Many people with a fractured scaphoid think they have a sprained wrist instead of a broken bone because there is no obvious deformity and very little swelling.

Dislocations of the PIP Joint

One of the most common injuries to an athlete’s hand is an injury to the joint above the knuckle, the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint. Injuries to the PIP joint occur when the finger is either hyperextended (forced backwards) or forced into flexion (downward into a bent position). Injuries to the PIP joint may include fractures, dislocations, and fracture dislocations.

Soft Tissue and Closed Tendon Injuries

Tendons are a type of connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone. A common injury of the tendon is called tendonitis, an irritation of the tissue.

DeQuervain’s Syndrome

DeQuervain’s syndrome is a common injury in racquet sports and in athletes who use a lot of wrist motion, especially repetitive rotating and gripping.

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

The overuse of the hand may eventually cause irritation of the tendons found along the thumb side of the wrist. This irritation causes the lining around the tendon to swell, making it difficult for the tendons to move properly.

ECU Tendonitis

Extensor carpi ulnaris (ECU) tendonitis is another common sports-related closed tendon injury. ECU tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon that runs along the back of the wrist and is caused by repetitive twisting and backward flexion of the wrist. It is most commonly seen in basketball players and those playing racquet sports.

Baseball Finger

Baseball finger (or mallet finger) is an injury that commonly occurs at the beginning of the baseball season. It occurs when a ball hits the tip of your finger, bending it down. Normally, the tip of your finger can bend toward the palm of your hand about 60-70 degrees. However, add the force of a ball that has been batted through the air, and it can push your finger beyond that limit, tearing the extensor tendon that controls muscle movement in the affected finger. If the force is great enough, it may even pull tiny pieces of bone away, as well.

Jersey Finger

Jersey finger is the opposite of mallet finger and occurs when the fingertip, usually the ring finger, is forcibly extended, such as if your finger gets caught in an opponent’s jersey. This causes the flexor tendon, which bends the fingertip, to be pulled away from the bone and will leave you unable to bend your finger without assistance.

Boutonnière Deformity

Boutonnière deformity is an injury to the tendons that straighten your fingers. It occurs when your finger receives a forceful blow when it is bent. Several tendons, running along the side and top of your finger, work together to straighten the finger. If the tendon on the top that attaches to the middle bone of the finger (the central slip of tendon) is injured by a forceful blow, it can sever the central slip from its attachment to the bone, in some cases, even popping the bone through the opening. The tear looks like a buttonhole (“boutonnière” in French). If you have a boutonnière deformity, the middle joint of your finger will bend downward and the fingertip end joint bends back. People with a boutonnière deformity cannot fully straighten their finger.

Preventing Sports-Related Hand and Wrist Injuries

The best ways to prevent sports-related hand, wrist, and upper extremity injuries include

  • Wrist guards
    If your sport is rollerblading, street hockey, or skateboarding, wrist guards may help protect you from bone fractures and hand scrapes if you fall or slide.
  • Gloves
    Use gloves to protect your hands, particularly if you are a bicyclist or skateboarder. The gloves will help protect your hands if the palm suffers a direct blow. In addition to protecting your nerves, gloves can protect your skin from direct wounds and cuts.
  • Warm up
    Before playing sports, include a warm-up routine where you focus on stretching and improving your flexibility.

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ganglion Cysts

Frequently Asked Questions About Ganglion Cysts

Article Featured on Michigan Hand & Wrist

Ganglion cysts are noncancerous lumps that most commonly develop along the tendons or joints of your wrists or hands. They also may occur in the ankles and feet. Ganglion cysts are typically round or oval and are filled with a jellylike fluid.

Small ganglion cysts can be pea-sized, while larger ones can be around an inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter. Ganglion cysts can be painful if they press on a nearby nerve. Their location can sometimes interfere with joint movement.

If your ganglion cyst is causing you problems, your doctor may suggest trying to drain the cyst with a needle. Removing the cyst surgically also is an option. But if you have no symptoms, no treatment is necessary. In many cases, the cysts go away on their own.

Here are the most common questions about Ganglion Cysts

Q: What is a ganglion cyst?

A: A ganglion cyst is a buildup of fluid under the skin, and although they can occur anywhere on the body, they are most commonly found on the wrist, feet, or ankles.

Q: What are the symptoms of a ganglion cyst?

A: The most common symptoms of a ganglion cyst include:

  • A firm, round lump under the skin.
  • Joint pain around the affected area.
  • Swelling, numbness, and muscle weakness surrounding the cyst.

Q: What causes a ganglion cyst?

A: The cause is not known at this time.

Q: How is a ganglion cyst diagnosed?

A: A licensed medical professional will perform a thorough examination may involve any of the following:

  • Moving the joint around the cyst while performing a visual inspection.
  • An ultrasound of the affected area.
  • An MRI of the joint where the cyst is located.

Q: How is a ganglion cyst treated.

A: While, some ganglion cysts pose no threat and will go away on their own, some require one or more of the following treatment methods:

  • Aspiration, or draining, of the cyst to decrease inflammation and reduce pain.
  • A steroid injection directly into the cyst.
  • Surgical removal of the cyst.

Q: What can I do to manage the symptoms?

A: Your medical professional will likely suggest one of the following:

  • Hand therapy designed to help improve movement and reduce pain.
  • A protective splint that will limit movement and shrink the cyst.
  • If surgery is required, proper wound care will prevent tissue damage and reduce pain and swelling.

Q: When should I seek professional care?

A: Seek the assistance of a medical professional if you experience any of the following:

  • You are experience pain, numbness, or limited motion in the affected joint.
  • The limb containing a cyst gets stiff, unstable, numb, or weak.
  • A previously treated cyst returns or grows.
  • Your pain is ongoing after treatment.

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

What Are The Most Common Wrist Injuries?

What Are The Most Common Wrist Injuries?

Article Featured on Michigan Hand & Wrist

Repetitive motions and everyday activities can easily lead to injuries of the wrist. It is important to understand the most common of these injuries so you know when it’s time to consult a doctor.

Sprains and Strains

If you experience pain, bruising and the inability to move your wrist, you may have a stretched or torn ligament. This is called a sprain, and it is caused by things such as falling or getting hit. A stretched or torn tendon or muscle in your wrist is a strain, which might happen over the course of time or develop suddenly. Many wrist strains and sprains can be treated at home with ice, rest and compression bands. More serious cases may require physical therapy.

Broken Bones

Broken wrists account for 10 percent of broken bones in the United States. The term “broken wrist” usually applies to a fracture of the radius in the forearm that occurs at the lower, or distal, end near where it connect to the hand bones on the thumb side. Broken wrists are usually caused by falling with outstretched arms or getting hit very hard. Symptoms of a broken wrist include severe pain, swelling, tenderness, and a deformity that makes it appear bent. People who suspect they have a broken wrist should consult a doctor immediately so treatment can begin.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The eight bones of the wrist are called carpals, and the tube that runs through them is called the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel contains nerves and tendons, and when those tendons swell or become irritated it narrows the canal and puts pressure on the nerves that causes them to compress. This causes numbness, and as it worsens people may have trouble grasping things. Treatments include rest, splints and medications for pain and to reduce inflammation. Severe cases require surgery in order for people to regain normal wrist movement.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.