7 Helpful Tips for Recovering from Hand Injuries
If you’ve injured your hand, you know how frustrating it can be. Not only do you have to deal with the pain, but you also must take time to recover! Depending on the severity of your injury, this process can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. To help you regain the function in your hand, wrist, or elbow, follow these seven hand-therapist approved tips.
How Do You Heal an Injured Hand Fast?
- RICE vs. MICE Recovery Methods
Knowing when to rest your hand and when to move your hand is the first step in recovering from any hand injury. The most commonly followed acronym, R.I.C.E , or Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation involves an initial rest period to allow the injured structures of the hand to begin healing, and allow the initial inflammatory stage of the injury to reduce prior to returning to daily life.While rest can be important for recovery, the M.I.C.E method, which stands for Movement, Ice, Compression, Elevation is becoming increasingly more popular during the initial inflammatory stage. The concept behind the M.I.C.E method is performing gentle active range of motion to reduce swelling and prevent stiffness. Motion should be performed in pain free ranges. Whether resting or moving, both methods involve icing, compression, and elevating the hand to assist in the recovery process.Both methods can be important for hand injury recovery during the initial acute phase of recovery, be sure to discuss with your hand surgeon and therapist to determine which method is appropriate for you during this initial recovery period.
- Visit a Certified Hand Therapist at Twin Boro Physical Therapy
Once you have started the RICE method, it is also a good idea to visit your Twin Boro Certified Hand Therapist. Your Certified Hand Therapist can help you create a personalized rehabilitation program that will speed up your recovery time. At Twin Boro Physical Therapy, our Certified Hand Therapy team is experienced in treating all types of hand injuries, including fractures, ligament conditions, tendon injuries, and nerve injuries. Our Certified Hand Therapists also have at least 5 years and a minimum of 4,000 hours of direct clinical experience and use state-of-the-art equipment to help you recover as quickly and effectively as possible.
- Perform Exercises Prescribed by Your Hand Therapist
Whether you are suffering from a fingertip injury to complex replanted extremities, one of the most important things you can do to speed up your recovery is to perform the exercises prescribed by your therapist. These exercises are designed to improve range of motion, strength, and function in your hand. The most frequently recommended exercises include:
- Towel scrunches: Lay a small wash cloth on a table top and begin collecting towel in your palm with your fingers. Once a small handful is collected, gentle straighten your fingers to push the towel back out onto the table.
- Wrist ROM: Start with your hand resting the over of a table top. With the back of your hand facing the ceiling, gently move your wrist up and down. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Change the position of your hand so your thumb is facing the ceiling. Gently move your hand up and down, as if hammering. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Grip strengthening: Squeeze a stress ball or a wash cloth.
- Pinch strengthening: With thumb and index finger, pinch a soft foam ball or a chip clip.
- Thumb opposition: touch your thumb to each finger and slide at the farthest point, holding thumb for 10 seconds at end range.
- Splinting & Bracing to Protect Your Injured Hand
In addition to following the RICE and MICE methods and performing exercises prescribed by your therapist, it is also important to protect your injured hand with a splint or brace. This will help to immobilize your hand and prevent further injury. Your Certified Hand Therapist at Twin Boro Physical Therapy can custom-fit you for a splint or brace that is specifically designed for your type of injury. We also offer a wide variety of off-the-shelf splints and braces for the most common hand injuries. By resting, protecting, and exercising your injured hand, you will give it the best chance to heal quickly and properly.
- Use Modalities Heat or Cold Therapy
- Heat Therapy: Heat therapy can be used to help reduce pain and stiffness in your hand. Heat dilates blood vessels, which increases blood flow to the area and helps to reduce inflammation. Heat therapy can also help to relax muscles, which can further relieve pain. To use heat therapy, apply a heat pad or warm compress to the injured area for 15-20 minutes at a time.
- Cold Therapy: Cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy, can be used to reduce pain and inflammation. Cold therapy works by constricting blood vessels, which reduces blood flow to the area and helps to reduce inflammation. Cold therapy can also help to reduce muscle spasms. To use cold therapy, apply a cold pack or icepack to the injured area for 15-20 minutes at a time.
- Paraffin Therapy: Paraffin therapy is a type of heat therapy that uses wax to soothe stiffness and pain. The heat from the wax helps to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation. Paraffin therapy can also help to relax muscles and improve range of motion.
- Contrast Baths: Contrast baths involve alternating between soaking your hand in hot water and then cold water for to helps to reduce pain and inflammation in the hand.
- Fluidotherapy: This therapy involves placing your hand in a chamber that is filled with tiny solid particles. The particles are heated to a temperature that is comfortable for you and then circulated around your hand. The heat and massage action of the therapy help to reduce pain, swelling, and stiffness.
- Use Compression
In addition to modalities, compression can also be helpful in reducing pain and swelling. Compression can be achieved by wearing a compression bandage. Be sure to consult with your therapist before using any type of compression, as too much pressure can increase swelling.
- Ask Your Doctor About Pain Management
It is also important to manage your pain throughout the recovery process. Over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be effective in reducing pain and inflammation. However, be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any medications, as they may interact with other medications you are taking or have negative side effects.
Treating Hand Injuries at Twin Boro Physical Therapy
At Twin Boro Physical Therapy, we are dedicated to helping our patients recover from hand injuries as quickly and effectively as possible. Our team of Certified Hand Therapists is experienced in treating all types of hand injuries and can create a personalized rehabilitation program to help you achieve your goals.
Contact us today at (732) 444-3578 or use our online form to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations in New Jersey. We are here to help you find relief and manage your pain!