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Repetitive Stress Conditions of the Hand, Wrist and Elbow – Rehabilitation and Prevention

Posted on December 23rd, 2008

Repetitive stress conditions of the hand, wrist and elbow affect the office worker, athlete, and musician alike. And increasingly the condition is affecting the young limbs of children whose daily tasks meld as seamlessly with cell phones, keyboards and game controllers as they have traditionally with pencils and toothbrushes.

Such repetitive stress conditions include tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome,tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) and golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis). Playing-related musculoskeletal disorders (PRMD) also fall within this category and are those conditions associated with professional musicians.

The key in staying strong and pain free is recognizing irritation when it occurs and adjusting activity accordingly, in order to prevent a more extensive problem. A series of rehabilitation exercises have been developed for the specific conditions and both serve as part of a treatment program as well as a preventative exercise program.

Some of the rehabilitation exercises for common repetitive stress condition Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include the median nerve glide, tendon glide and a neutral wrist splint.

A series of rehabilitation exercises, called the Musician 6 Pack, developed specifically for the demands of professional musicians entails stretching and core strengthening exercises, in order to reduce the chance of developing tendinopathic injuries and conditions, as well as reduce the duration of symptoms in those suffering from such.


Activities Contributing to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, And Effective Treatment

Posted on December 15th, 2008

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Part 2

A continued discussion…

Last week, a discussion on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome began, as it has become one of the most commonly seen orthopedic conditions affecting the hand today – second only to osteoarthritis.

Those at greatest risk include:
• Women (three times more likely to be affected than men), as CTS affects those subject to high hormone-related conditions such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause and hypothyroidism.
• Those on certain medications such as birth control pills, high blood pressure drugs and cortisone pills or shots.
• Medical conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, Raynaud’s disease and cysts and tumors within the carpal tunnel.

And today’s technologically savvy society seems to be increasingly predisposed to such “overstress” conditions as a result of the handheld device error cementing an electronic dependency that has been growing over the years. Recognizing that which predisposes us to CTS makes it easier to take preventative measures.

Such preventative CTS steps can be as simple as taking anti inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen, reducing the amount of time on an activity aggravating the condition and purchasing ergonomic aids for work environments, or as complex as adjusting other medications taken and addressing a primary condition to which it is frequently secondary.

While chronic CTS conditions nonresponsive to conservative treatment may require Dr. Collins’ minimally invasive endoscopic carpal tunnel release, rarely does the condition return once treated.

The endoscopic carpal tunnel release involves a tiny incision made at the base of the hand. A scope that is inserted illuminates and magnifies the view of the area. The scope has a small camera attached, which projects images onto a small monitor and guides the doctor through the carpal tunnel. The transverse carpal ligament forming a band across the wrist is cut slightly in order to relieve the pressure placed on the median nerve as it passes beneath the ligament.

Rehabilitation exercises then help patients quickly return to activity.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, A Common Overuse Condition

Posted on December 9th, 2008

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Part I

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is one of the most common hand conditions seen in orthopedic medicine today. Traditionally related to occupational activities, it is today becoming increasingly more prevalent as a result of everyday activities – as computers serve as the primary tool of written communication, blackberries and cell phones grow in sophistication and functionality, and game controls keep the youth just steps away from the ultimate challenge.

Known as an “overstress” condition, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the inflammation of the median nerve. This median nerve travels down the arm and through a narrow passage way in the wrist, called the carpal tunnel.

Irritation resultant of a repetitive activity will cause irritation and contraction within the tunnel, applying pressure to the median never passing through it. This constriction further inflames the area and causes pain and discomfort. The nerve is surrounded by nine tendons and covered with a tight ligament called the transverse ligament. When the membranes responsible for lubricating the tendons as they glide in the tunnel swell, the condition is identified as CTS.

Since the median nerve provides feeling to the thumb, index and middle fingers, as well as a portion of the ring finger and some hand muscles, the impact of the constriction can be prominent and cause a great deal of pain.

The first course of action is to refrain from the activity suspected of prompting the condition. Creating different environments can also be productive, as a number of ergonomic computer keyboards and gaming devices have been developed over the years to help prevent the strain on many of the hand positions linked to CTS.

Depending on the severity of the condition and other related diseases or genetic factors prompting the condition in patients, other treatment options may be indicated.