Hand and Orthopedic Physical Therapy Specialists

Your Physical Therapy Experts… serving our community since 1978

Hand, Elbow, Wrist Conditions

Halloween Pumpkin Carving

pumpkin-carving-tips-finalWith Halloween fast approaching it is a good time to remind ourselves that it is one of the top three holidays for injuries associated with the hand. Before you pull out your pumpkin and begin carving your masterpiece, take a moment to review the safety measures that can possibly save you from an unwanted visit to the emergency room. The American Society for Hand Surgery has provided some great pearls of information regarding safety while carving your pumpkin. View the link below to stay safe during your Halloween festivities. Happy Halloween!

http://www.assh.org/handcare/Conditions-and-Injuries/Hand-Safety/Pumpkin-Carving

Steve Wixom, PT, DPT, CHT

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Desk Ergonomics

Ergo chair

The desk jockey, the computer czar, the digital overlord.  However you choose to define your time at a desk, chances are your body is taking a beating from all the time spent slouched in a chair. Few jobs escape time in front of a computer and the accompanying low back pain, carpal tunnel, and stiffness.  However, knowing proper posture while at a desk will set yourself up for a much more positive experience at work or home.

Chair:

  • Your feet should rest comfortably on the floor with your knees in line with your hips or slightly below.
  • Modify your chair by adding a foot rest if your feet don’t rest on the floor
  • If additional lumbar support is needed, place a cushion in the curve of your lower back

Posture:

  • Keep shoulders and arms in a relaxed position. Elbows should be ≥ 90⁰
  • Center your body in front of the keyboard and monitor.
  • Sit up straight
  • Keep documents in front of your work space, don’t lean. If you are right handed, keep the right side of desk clear for writing.

Wrists:

  • When typing keep your wrists in a natural, straight position
  • Use a wrist rest to minimize stress, when typing keep your wrists above the rest and during a break rest your palms (no wrists) on the rest
  • Keep your mouse within easy reach on the side of your keyboard

Monitor Height:

  • Position your monitor an arm’s length away, directly in front of you. The top of the screen should be just below eye level

Headset:

  • Invest in a headset if you frequently talk and type to prevent cradling the phone between your head and neck

For more work tips and injury prevention check out other posts.

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#189 – Hand Surgery/Therapy Success, Until Next Time…

Seth Riley is a wonderful physical therapist. He was very kind and helpful. Brie was so nice and efficient. Enjoyed being around her. Lindsay was new but also very nice and helpful. Really enjoyed being around such a good group under the circumstances… Looking forward to seeing them again for my next right hand surgery. -Joanne

Draper, UT 

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#181 – A Little Advice When You Injure Your Hand

I’ll try to keep this brief so you don’t have to read a novel to get the facts.

In July 2015 I was mountain biking and fell dislocating my thumb. Turns out I not only dislocated my thumb, I totally tore the collateral ligament from the bone in my thumb making it a flopping and pretty much useless digit. Some doctors said to repair the ligament and others said to learn to live with it.

Here’s a good point, be comfortable with your doctor/surgeon. Just like you would shop for most anything you buy that costs a lot of money, I urge you to shop for this person. If you aren’t sure about the doctor, that persons opinion, and how they communicate with you… keep looking until you have the entire package. I found a great one, call Hand and Orthopedic and ask about who I saw or send me an email and I’ll tell you how it worked for me. I ended up having the surgery to repair the ligament. Once surgery is complete, two things matter with ligaments/tendon/muscles: Time and therapy.

Give yourself the time to heal. Also with this type of injury be sure to both go to therapy and do what they say, even when they aren’t watching. It pays off down the road if you do this…this is not the time to be lazy and let your thumb just get worse as scar tissue develops.

Here’s what I learned, just for those that do something similar, Susan is a champ… no kidding. She’s straight up with me, figured out my personality, adjusted her approach in a way that works for me. I got the coaching and therapy my thumb needed from Susan. Listen to her, she’s looking out for you, and guys, do what she says, it paid off for me, I bet it will for you too.

The other two people that helped/pushed me along the way were Brooke and Kirstin… Susan leads that team and it’s all to make things better for you, and your “poor whatever you messed up”.

thx Ladies, you helped me along the way… -Todd

Murray, UT

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Harnessing the Power of Ice and Heat: When to use ice and heat

DSC_0665To ice or not to ice, to heat or not to heat- that is the question.  Especially when plagued with a recent injury or struggle with a chronic ache or pain.  Ice and heat can both provide inexpensive and powerful pain relief; so what is the difference, does it matter, what will help the most?  To answer these questions here is a brief physiology lesson on what ice and heat do.

ICE
· Constricts or slows down blood flow to the injury
· Decreases the amount of blood in the muscle
· Slows circulation
· Reduces swelling, muscle spasms, and pain

HEAT
· Warms and opens blood vessels
· Increases blood flow
· Supplies oxygen and nutrients to reduce pain in joints and relaxes soreness
· Stimulates the healing process
· Decreases muscle spasms
· Can increase range of motion

Understanding what ice and heat do to alleviate pain makes it easier to understand when you use each. Most often, if you have swelling you have pain. Generally, it is best to ice a new or acute injury and heat a recurring or chronic injury.  Icing an injury for the first 24-48 hours helps decrease swelling and inflammation allowing your body to start the healing process quicker.  Chronic injuries on the other hand will benefit from the increased blood flow and healing that heat brings.

Application
· Don’t apply ice or heat directly to the skin, wrap in a thin towel first
· Apply ice or heat for no longer than 20 minutes at a time

There are instances when ice and heat may be used alternately, the physiological response of which is to decrease inflammation. If you are ever questioning if you should use heat or ice, your physical therapist is a great resource to help you maximize the healing benefits of heat and ice.

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How Can I Prevent Carpal Tunnel?

Prevention is sometimes a difficult concept to grasp.  When we are healthy and pain-free, it’s hard to understand why we would want to change any of our habits and so-called “comforts” in everyday life.  But the moment we start experiencing symptoms and pain, we wish we had done something to avoid it.   Additionally, we are often not aware of the “little” things we might be doing wrong, but then are educated about these mistakes when we meet with a healthcare professional. Well, here’s your chance to make a few changes in your life in an effort to avoid irritating your carpal tunnel and possibly developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition where the median nerve (a nerve that travels from your forearm to your hand through a narrow passageway in the wrist called the carpal tunnel) becomes irritated, pinched, or inflamed. Once this nerve becomes irritated, it can take months to become healthy again. One of the main contributing factors to the development of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the constant, repetitive use of your hands in the flexed/extended positions. An example of these poor wrist

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Skier’s Thumb

Skier’s Thumb

Definition: Injury (often a tear) to the ligament that connects the bones of the thumb.

Causes: Injury where the thumb is bent abnormally backward or sideways (usually caused by falling onto an outstretched hand while an item is being gripped in that palm—i.e. falling with a ski pole in hand).

Treatment Options: Custom splints, strength/flexibility exercises, and manual therapy assist in suppressing pain and promoting healing to the ligament.

See our Hand and Upper Extremity Program

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