Hand, Wrist and Elbow Pain are conditions that are well suited for osteopathic treatment and management. Although many people do not think of an osteopath first when they encounter problems in these areas, we have the ability to detect dysfunction and treat soft tissues and joints in these areas.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the nerve in the wrist (median nerve) becomes compressed as it passes through part of the wrist, called the carpal tunnel, toward the hand. The carpal tunnel is a small space made up of bone and tendon, which if inflamed or swollen, can easily impinge on the median nerve running through it, resulting in a distinct set of symptoms. Further information on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be found here.
Tennis Elbow occurs when the muscles and tendons of the forearm become inflamed at the point that they attach to the lateral epicondyle (the bony bump on the outside of the elbow). The injury can be acute or chronic and is due to inflammation and damage to the muscles and tendons that bring the wrist and fingers backward – an action that is used in playing tennis, hence the term Tennis Elbow. Further information on Tennis Elbow can be found here.
Golfers’ Elbow occurs when the muscles and tendons of the forearm become inflamed at the point that they attach to the medial epicondyle (the bony bump on the inside of the elbow). The injury can be acute or chronic and is due to inflammation and damage to the muscles and tendons that bring the wrist and fingers forward – an action that is used in movements like swinging a golf club, hence the term Golfers’ Elbow. Further information on Golfer’s Elbow can be found here.
Why consult an osteopath for hand, wrist, or elbow pain?
By understanding the overarching mechanisms that support the function of the hand, wrist and elbow in other parts of the body such as the shoulder, neck, back and hips, an osteopath may provide relief from pain and discomfort in this region of the body. This can be achieved by a combination of direct and indirect treatment, and an individually tailored management plan taking into account additional lifestyle and ergonomic factors that may be causing, exacerbating, or maintaining the problem.
Treatment and management
Your osteopath can perform an examination to properly diagnose the condition and identify the cause(s). They may also recommend:
- Osteopathic treatment of surrounding muscles & joints contributing to the problem
- Rehabilitation exercises
- Rest, and if required, immobilisation using a splint or strapping
- Identification of ergonomic factors to eliminate causes of repetitive strain or increased load on irritated/inflamed structures
- Reducing inflammation with medications, supplementation or ice/cold therapy
- Referral for steroid or PRP injections to reduce inflammation, or
- Specialist referral for surgical intervention may be recommended in rare cases.
What to avoid
- Avoid engaging in the activity that may have caused the problem
- Do not apply heat or heat creams to the affected area
- Do not self-prescribe massage, stretches or exercises