BRACES SUPPORT LEARNING CENTER
As we age, our joints may become painful. This can be caused by several factors including, but not limited to, repetitive stress (occupation, sports or activity), injury or normal wear and tear of cartilage (osteoarthritis). The wrist is a common area in which pain is felt. Arthritis and carpal tunnel are common factors for this as we age, especially osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis of the Hand and Wrist
Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that mostly affects cartilage. Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. Healthy cartilage allows bones to glide over each other. It also helps absorb shock of movement. In osteoarthritis, the top layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away. This allows bones under the cartilage to rub together. The rubbing causes pain, swelling, and loss of motion of the joint. Over time, the joint may lose its normal shape. Also, bone spurs may grow on the edges of the joint. Bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float inside the joint space, which causes more pain and damage.
People with osteoarthritis often have joint pain and reduced motion. Osteoarthritis occurs most often in older people. Younger people sometimes get osteoarthritis primarily from joint injuries. 1
How Is Hand Osteoarthritis Treated?
The main goals of osteoarthritis treatment involve reducing or eliminating pain and/or restoring function and mobility. The following nonsurgical treatments may be used:
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. The median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers (although not the little finger), as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move. The carpal tunnel - a narrow, rigid passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand - houses the median nerve and tendons. Sometimes, thickening from irritated tendons or other swelling narrows the tunnel and causes the median nerve to be compressed. The result may be pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm. Although painful sensations may indicate other conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common and widely known of the entrapment neuropathies in which the body's peripheral nerves are compressed or traumatized. Symptoms include frequent burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb and the index.
What are the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is often the result of a combination of factors that increase pressure on the median nerve and tendons in the carpal tunnel, rather than a problem with the nerve itself. Most likely the disorder is due to a congenital predisposition - the carpal tunnel is simply smaller in some people than in others. Other contributing factors include trauma or injury to the wrist that cause swelling, such as sprain or fracture; overactivity of the pituitary gland; hypothyroidism; rheumatoid arthritis; mechanical problems in the wrist joint; work stress; repeated use of vibrating hand tools; fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause; or the development of a cyst or tumor in the canal. In some cases no cause can be identified.
How is carpal tunnel syndrome treated?
Treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome should begin as early as possible, under a doctor's direction. Underlying causes such as diabetes or arthritis should be treated first. Initial treatment generally involves resting the affected hand and wrist for at least 2 weeks, avoiding activities that may worsen symptoms, and immobilizing the wrist in a splint to avoid further damage from twisting or bending. If there is inflammation, applying cool packs or ice packs can help reduce swelling.2
Wrist and Hand Braces and Supports
A wrist brace offers support and helps alleviate pain in the wrist or hand. There are many different types of wrist braces and supports to choose from, all offering different levels of support and features.
Compression wrist support- flexible and easy to slip on. Use for moderate support.
Contour wrist brace- designed to prevent brace from extending beyond palmer crease. Ideal for treatment of sprains, strains, carpal tunnel, gamekeeper's thumb, and deQuervain's Syndrome symptoms.
Stabilizing wrist brace- designed for immobilization of the wrist and ideal for sprains, strains or after cast removal.
Universal wrist brace- flexible and offers moderate support. Some universal braces are adjustable and offer the thumb to be in a neutral position.
Night wrist supports - night supports, such as the IMAK® SmartGlove® PM , prevents hand from being held in a harmful position while sleeping. Ideal for carpal tunnel syndrome, forearm tendonitis, arthritis, and other wrist and hand pain.
Specialized wrist braces- there are several advanced wrist braces and hand supports to offer specialized support.
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