By Kathy Hubbard
Think about all the things you do with your hands. I’m using mine right now to type, and to scratch my head when I can’t think of the word I want to use. You might be holding a spoon to eat your breakfast cereal.
Someone else just buttoned the buttons on a shirt, while another might be making a sculpture. A friend of mine just had knee surgery and now realizes that being on crutches takes away his ability to hold his dog’s leash.
It isn’t surprising that a lot of things can and do go wrong with our hands and wrists with all of their twenty-seven bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles and cartilage. Although extremely painful, a fracture or break in the bone is the easiest problem to diagnose and the most common.
Another common problem is carpal tunnel syndrome which affects between three and six percent of adults in the U.S. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a pinched nerve in the wrist, which can be associated with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, some thyroid conditions, pregnancy and gout. Symptoms include pain, numbness and tingling (often worse at night), a weak grip and a tendency to drop things.
Cubital tunnel syndrome is a pinched nerve in what we call the funny bone. Symptoms include pain, numbness and tingling just like carpal tunnel syndrome, but more often affects the ring and pinky fingers.
Another common hand condition is described as discomfort at the base of the finger or thumb, a lump in the palm, pain, popping, a catching feeling or finger stiffness. Called trigger finger, it can also be associated with rheumatoid arthritis, gout, diabetes and repeated gripping but most of the time the cause is unknown.
DeQuervain’s syndrome is tendinitis on the thumb side of the wrist. Although repetitive movements or changes in hormones can be the culprit, more often than not it’s also idiopathic. A lump or mass in the hand is most likely a ganglion cyst. These lumps develop and disappear quickly, are non-cancerous and harmless if not painless.
And, then we’d be derelict if we didn’t talk about arthritis. You know that there are several different types of arthritis and each affects joints differently. Osteoarthritis breaks down the slippery cartilage protecting the ends of your bones where they form a joint, while rheumatoid arthritis attacks the lining of your joints.
So, you have one or more of these symptoms what are you going to do? First of all you’ll talk to your primary care physician. Then you’ll most likely be referred to either an orthopedic surgeon, physical therapy or both.
Cue in orthopedic surgeon, Jonathan Klaucke and Susan Hartman Silberman, registered occupational therapist and certified hand specialist.
Dr. Klaucke joined the staff at Bonner General Orthopedics last summer. He graduated with honors from University of Massachusetts Medical School in 2012. And, he adds pediatric orthopedics and sports orthopedics to his interest in hand surgery, pediatric and adult trauma, and fracture care.
There’s no better recommendation than one who’s had experience. Sandpoint resident Kristy Rief’s daughter fell on the evening of July Fourth and when she took her in for an x-ray that confirmed her wrist was broken; Immediate Care suggested she see Dr. Klaucke.
“Dr. Klaucke was confident and friendly and made us feel really comfortable. He took a real interest in my daughter’s favorite activities and gave us recommendations on how to best care for her injury to ensure the best chance for her to heal properly. We are really lucky to have a hand specialist in Sandpoint,” Rief said.
Silberman has been at Performance Therapy Services since 2011 and with over 30 years in the medical field has proven time and again that people can regain normal functioning or close to it. She also likes to teach her patients about on-the-job injury prevention.
There’s no reason to suffer with hand and wrist pain. Use your phalanges (you know, fingers) to make that appointment today to find out exactly what you need to do to be able to literally handle your everyday tasks. Bonner General Orthopedics 208-263-8597. Performance Therapy Services 208-255-3676.
Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Click Here for More Information About Bonner General Orthopedics Click Here for More Information About Hand Therapy at Performance Therapy Services