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Osteoarthritis of the hand and wrist is a common joint disorder that causes pain, joint swelling and decreased range of motion and ability to perform daily tasks. There are two classifications of osteoarthritis, primary and secondary. Primary osteoarthritis onset is generally insidious with no definable cause. Secondary osteoarthritis is often related to an anatomic problem such as an injury or inflammatory disorder. The disease is marked by the wearing down of the cartilage in the joint. As the disease progresses, the cartilage is reduced and eventually the bone rubs on bone.

Hand Therapy can play an integral part in the treatment for people with arthritis. Members of the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) are either Occupational or Physical Therapists with specialized training in the treatment of the hand and upper extremities. Many carry the advanced certification credential of CHT (Certified Hand Therapist).

While medications play an important role in the management of symptoms, many patients are concerned by the loss of some their “tried and true” arthritis medications which have been pulled off the market in the wake of health safety concerns. Hand Therapy is a valuable adjunctive treatment to provide long term benefit for a more functional and less painful daily life.

Benefits of hand therapy treatments may include:

- Reduction of pain, deformity, disability and joint instability

- Increased range of motion and function

- Decreased swelling

- Increased strength and endurance

Hand Therapists may use different approaches to the problems caused by arthritis, including:

- Fabrication or providing new equipment and teaching techniques to make activities of daily living easier and less painful.

- Fabrication of custom orthoses to stabilize and/or support joints

- Development of a customized home exercise program

- Stretches to keep soft tissues more loose and flexible

- Exercises to increase muscle function for endurance and strength

- Modalities such as paraffin, whirlpool, moist heat and cold laser therapy to decrease pain

- Instruction in joint protection, energy conservation and work simplification to protect and reduce external stresses on joints

A physician referral to a Certified Hand Therapist offers patients another option to help them deal the problems associated with arthritis. If you have any questions about osteoarthritis and hand therapy you can call Hand & Upper Extremity Rehab Specialists at 724-942-5410.




@2008  Hand & Upper Extremity Rehab Specialists, Inc.  451 Valley Brook Road  McMurray, PA 15317  phone: 724.942.5410  fax: 724.782.0397
Burgettstown Hand Center  2038 Smith Township Road   Burgettstown, PA 15021  phone: 724.825.5480  fax:  724.782.0397