Hands are remarkable tools, facilitating countless tasks and expressions in our daily lives. However, they are also susceptible to various conditions that can impact their function and comfort. Physiotherapists encounter individuals grappling with hand conditions regularly. This article is a spotlight on four common hand conditions: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Cyclist’s Palsy, De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, and Carpal Instability, providing more insight on their causes, symptoms, and physiotherapy approaches.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a one hand condition characterised by pressure on the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. The median nerve helps you move your forearm, wrist, hand and fingers. Repetitive hand motions, certain medical conditions like diabetes, and wrist anatomy can contribute to its development. Symptoms often include numbness, tingling, and weakness in the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Physiotherapy treatments typically focus on exercises to improve wrist mobility, nerve gliding techniques, and ergonomic modifications to alleviate pressure on the nerve.

Cyclist’s Palsy

Cyclist’s Palsy, also known as Handlebar Palsy, stems from prolonged pressure on the ulnar nerve, commonly experienced by avid cyclists. This is one of the three main nerves in your arm that travels from your neck down into your hand. Continuous compression of the this nerve against the handlebars can lead to numbness, tingling, and weakness in the ring and little fingers. Physiotherapy strategies this type of hand condition often include nerve mobilisation exercises, strengthening exercises for the muscles supporting the wrist and hand, and education on proper bike fit and technique to reduce nerve compression.

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

De Quervain’s disorder affects the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist, leading to inflammation and pain. Overuse, repetitive thumb motions, or direct trauma to the wrist can trigger this condition. Individuals often experience pain and swelling at the base of the thumb, which worsens with thumb movement or gripping. Physiotherapy treatment may involve splinting to rest the thumb tendons, therapeutic exercises to improve thumb strength and flexibility, and recommending a change in activity to prevent aggravation of symptoms.

Carpal Instability

Carpal Instability refers to abnormal movement or alignment of the carpal bones in the wrist, compromising its stability and function. It can result from traumatic injuries, ligament laxity (looseness), or degenerative changes. Symptoms may include wrist pain, weakness, and a sensation of instability during activities requiring wrist movement. Physiotherapy aims to strengthen the muscles surrounding the wrist, improve joint proprioception (your body’s ability to sense movement and action), and enhance wrist stability through specialised exercises and manual therapy techniques.

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