Occupational Therapy Offers Relief For Hand Pain From Arthritis

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newsOccupational Therapist Roxanne Perry with Armonk Physical Therapy & Sports Training with tips on how OT can help manage osteoarthritis hand pain and prevent further joint damage.

Opening a jar, buttoning a shirt or brushing your teeth are everyday activities that feel far from routine for those with arthritis in their hands, a highly common condition causing pain and disability for millions of Americans. But occupational therapy, or OT, focusing on the hands can ease pain and increase range of motion for these patients, whether used on its own or after surgery, according to Roxanne Perry, a licensed occupational therapist and certified hand therapist at Armonk Physical Therapy & Sports Training.

With 27 bones in each of our hands (including the carpals which are the small wrist bones and are often involved when a patient has arthritic pain) perhaps it’s not surprising that osteoarthritis is the most common cause of hand arthritis – a word that literally means “inflamed joint.” Osteoarthritis itself is the most common type of arthritis in the United States, affecting about 12% of American adults and occurring when the smooth cartilage covering joints gets worn away because of age or overuse – causing pain, stiffness, swelling and sometimes knobby finger joints.

Hand therapy is a specialized practice area among occupational therapists, who treat these patients to preserve or increase their hand mobility so they’re able to perform everyday tasks more easily and comfortably.

“As a non-surgical option or a way to boost your recovery from hand surgery, occupational therapy is tailored to fit each person’s individual situation and needs, both at home and at work,” says Perry, who has more than 20 years of clinical experience treating injuries of the upper extremity. “The ultimate goal is to restore and optimize the way your hands function as well as to improve your independence and overall quality of life.”

Preventing further joint damage

For those with hand osteoarthritis for which surgery isn’t recommended, OT serves a preventative role, Perry explains. Patients are taught ways to prevent further joint damage, which can include:

Splinting: Immobilizing affected joints, particularly at night, helps them rest when you do and cuts down on joint inflammation, pain and swelling, Perry says. Splints used during sleep are made of a thermoplastic material that stretch and mold closely to the shape of the hand, while neoprene splints may be prescribed during the day to allow movement while also providing support. An occupational therapist will ensure splints are fabricated and fitted to each patient’s needs.

Home exercise program: In addition to working with hand osteoarthritis patients during office visits, occupational therapists also teach them range-of-motion exercises and gentle strengthening techniques they can perform at home. These therapeutic movements may include finger touches, curls, stretches and bends. A typical OT schedule involves office visits twice each week for 4 to 6 weeks and is generally covered by insurance with a prescription.

Information on pain management: Occupational therapists can offer education about over-the-counter and other types of anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain. Other pain management techniques may include soaking the hands in warm water or dipping them in warm paraffin wax. Additionally an OT can provide information on joint protection and adaptive equipment that can help increase patient’s independence.

“Avoiding further joint damage is a big part of effective treatment for hand arthritis,” Perry notes. “It’s not something you’d want to attempt without the guidance and expertise of an occupational therapist.”

If surgery needed, restoring strength and function

Surgery for osteoarthritis of the hand may be suggested when a patient either suffers from too much pain – a highly individual decision – or too little function. Surgical techniques can include; basal joint arthroplasty, also known as a joint replacement of the thumb, osteotomy, in which part of the bone of a joint is removed to realign the joint, and fusion of the joints, a procedure use when arthritis is particularly bad.

But even in this scenario, OT can play a crucial role in restoring a patient’s quality of life. If surgery is indicated, OT helps patients to manage post-operative pain; reduce swelling; promote wound care and healing; and restore range of motion, strength, and function.

“While a conservative, non-surgical approach is generally successful for managing hand osteoarthritis, sometimes surgery is the best course,” Perry says. “But either way, an occupational therapist can improve patients’ hand function and pain levels, reducing the stress on involved joints. OT shouldn’t be a last resort – it should be the first thought for people who develop hand arthritis.”

– Armonk Physical Therapy & Sports Training has provided personalized, integrative, and skilled one-on-one physical therapy services to residents of Westchester/lower Fairfield counties since 2001. http://www.armonkptst.com/ – Roxanne Perry, OTR, CHT, is a licensed occupational therapist and certified hand therapist at Armonk Physical Therapy & Sports Training.

National Rise In Patients Seeking Headache Relief

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woman TruDenta, the creator of a diagnostic and treatment system for chronic headaches and other jaw-related symptoms, has reported a nationwide rise in the number of patients seeking relief from chronic head pain, neck pain, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, jaw pain, tinnitus, and vertigo.

“This year we have seen a 52% increase in the number of patients our practices have treated. Our network of over 300 doctors and their teams in 47 states are changing lives every day,” says John Harris, President and Chief Executive Officer.

According to TruDenta, this increase could be a positive indicator of a greater public awareness of the varied root causes of chronic pain, as well as a sign that headache and TMJ sufferers are increasingly dissatisfied with the side effects and low efficacy of temporary solutions like medication or injections. Finding proper treatment for chronic headaches is difficult for many patients, and like all chronic pain it puts those struggling with it at greater risk of depression and other illnesses. A study in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain found that patients suffering from migraines were 60% more likely to develop depression than patients without migraines.

The complicated nature of headache disorders means that they are often dismissed or misdiagnosed, leaving many chronic headache and migraine sufferers unaware that their pain could be caused by slight misalignments in their jaw and teeth. TruDenta’s diagnostic and therapy system uses state-of-the-art precision measurement to identify these imbalances, coupled with a drug-free and painless treatment system derived from sports medicine. If a patient’s pain is being caused by dental imbalances, TruDenta’s holistic and science-based approach can completely resolve their symptoms.

About TruDenta
TruDenta is a comprehensive medical therapy system designed to resolve headaches, migraines, tinnitus, vertigo, jaw pain, and other symptoms associated with underlying temporomandibular joint (TMJ) imbalances. The TruDenta approach is derived from sports medicine, and uses a series of proprietary diagnostics and gentle therapies utilizing FDA-cleared technologies to pinpoint and resolve the root causes of dental imbalances. Released during the Summer of 2011, TruDenta is now in use at dental offices in 47 states and Canada.

Citations:
Modgill, G., Jette, N., Wang, J. L., Becker, W. J. and Patten, S. B. (2012), A Population-Based Longitudinal Community Study of Major Depression and Migraine. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 52: 422–432. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2011.02036.x

Natural Relief For Athritis Pain

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By Ken Randall

How to Quickly and Safely Eliminate Arthritis Pain for a More Active Lifestyle

seniorcoupleexercisesmallOne of the most unfortunate realities of life is as we get older many individuals will probably experience some sort of joint pain and reduced range of motion. Of course, this doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be able to continue doing the activities you enjoy it does mean you will have to better manage your life.

Until recently, all natural joint pain fighting remedies where consider nothing more than snake oil. Fortunately, due to advancing food research technology and dedicated food scientists, we now have a better understanding how these natural remedies work compared to just a few years ago.

Today, there is little doubt that many natural remedy secrets are yet to be discovered from Mother Nature’s wisdom. In fact, many of the breakthroughs in modern medicine are the result of researchers going back to the basic building blocks found every day in nature and then reproduced in the laboratory.

However, many individuals are searching for natural remedies to help manage the effects of aging and joint health. In fact, as the population ages, natural remedies for arthritis and joint pain seem to getting the most attention from those looking to remain active well into their sixties, seventies and beyond. In the post, I would like to share some of the most popular natural remedies for joint pain to help you make an educated and well-informed decision regarding your own individual situation.

Loss Weight:

The best remedy to fighting joint arthritis pain is to lose weight. Did you know that for every pound of weight you translates to four pounds of pressure on your joints. Due to today’s busy and hectic lifestyles, losing weight can be a challenge, but losing just a few pounds over a year may lead to the disappearance of your symptoms. This is according to Roy Altman MD, and professor of Medicine at University of California.

Exercise:

There is a myth that exists that exercise makes arthritis worse. While it’s extreme exercise could have a profound impact, but the opposite is actually true. Check with your doctor prior to starting any exercise route, but consider low-impact exercises like walking, biking or swimming.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin:

The combination of glucosamine and chondroitin has both supports and those questioning this combinations effectiveness. There is fair amount of study and research demonstrating it effectiveness of for arthritis pain. According to Dr. Altman, “They’re really pretty safe. The one thing about them is there’s no major side effects. They’re fairly well tolerated.”

Capsaicin Cream

Capsaicin cream is a topical cream and can help to ease the pain of osteoarthritis. Best of all, it is available without a prescription as most drugstore. While it’s not completely known why it works, but the theory is due the reaction and heat.

Cherry Juice:

While the joint pain fighting properties of the tart cherry has been known since the 1950’s and before, this tangy red fruit has recently caught the attention of arthritis sufferers worldwide. The type of tart cherry commonly used for arthritis relief is the Montmorency. This cherry is mostly grown in the Traverse Bay Farms region of Michigan.

According to published research from Michigan State University, the pain relieving properties are 10 times more powerful than aspirin. In addition, this fruit is an good source of potassium, melatonin and vitamin A.

So if you’re looking to combat joint pain naturally, consider drinking some tart cherry juice, losing weight, starting a daily exercise routine. Once you get started, check out the glucosamine/chondroitin combination with capsaicin cream for the next stage in relieving your joint pain naturally.

– Guest Author Ken Randall, Traverse Bay Farms