Your hands are sophisticated and fragile instruments. The nerves, tendons, muscles and bones in the hand allow for robust, detailed, and precise actions. But everyday use can expose them to injury or overuse that leads to discomfort. Hand pain can be due to:
- nerve damage
- repetitive motion injuries
- sprains and fractures
- chronic health conditions
Many conditions contributing to hand pain can be treated without surgery. Depending on the cause of your hand pain, you may benefit from medications, exercises, or lifestyle changes. If you need surgery, we can usually treat hand and wrist complaints as a day case.
Blackrock Health is home to some of the most established private orthopaedic faculties in Ireland. We can carry out minimally invasive surgeries in hi-tech facilities across all our hospitals. We offer comprehensive musculoskeletal care, with dedicated inpatient orthopaedic and spinal wards. If you have day-case surgery, our team will care for you on our comfortable day wards.
We offer the full range of orthopaedics, including consultation, diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare. Our orthopaedic consultants are internationally recognised and conduct thousands of procedures every year. Our hospitals have expert multi-disciplinary teams - including clinical nurse specialists and physiotherapists. And we use the latest technology, from robot surgery to spinal navigation techniques and real-time imaging.
Blackrock Clinic is also one of the first private hospitals in Ireland to use the Irish National Orthopaedic Register (INOR). This is a national database informing on orthopaedic surgeries and outcomes in Ireland. [LINK]. The aim of this register is to improve patient outcomes. Both the Hermitage Clinic and Galway Clinic are expected to enrol with INOR in 2023.
You can access our services easily with a referral from your GP and can then enjoy world-class clinical care and comfort. Over 75% of our rooms are single occupancy - to help you make a quicker recovery in a safe environment. We aim to provide you with best possible outcome, and to restore your quality of life.
How will our team work to try and diagnose the cause of your hand and wrist pain?
An experienced clinician will be able to diagnose the majority of hand problems with a physical examination. They will listen carefully to your symptoms, and examine the hand or wrist that is giving you discomfort. Imaging tools such as X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and ultrasound will assist in further identification of the problem. These images can help show fractures, bursitis, arthritis and other issues that may be causing discomfort or pain.
What are the benefits of hand and wrist physiotherapy?
Our physiotherapists can help patients with hand therapy. This can rehabilitate weakened or injured muscles, ligaments and tendons in the hands and fingers. This type of therapy typically helps to improve overall range of motion, reduce stiffness and pain. If successful, hand therapy can increase dexterity and restore full hand function. During treatment the patient will receive targeted exercises and therapies. These will be specifically designed to strengthen the patient's damaged hand tissue. The therapist may also use massage, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, or other treatments.
Hand therapy can be provided by two kinds of specialists, who often work together. The first is a registered occupational therapist. The second is a chartered physiotherapist who specialises in the rehabilitation of the hands and upper limbs. Hand therapy's high degree of specialisation needs advanced post-graduate education and clinical experience. An experienced hand therapist can evaluate and identify problems effecting the upper limbs. He or she can then provide advice tailored to the patient. This can cover exercise, preventative care, aids to daily living and ergonomic consultation.
Who does a hand therapist treat?
A hand therapist treats any patient requiring intervention specific to the hand or upper limb. We start with a specialised detailed assessment and treatment - after injury, disease or deformity has affected the hand. The therapist then aims to help patients return to functional use of their hands with a tailored programme of treatment.
At Blackrock Health our hand therapy team works closely with our surgical consultants. This allows them to plan necessary surgical intervention and a timely, effective rehabilitation.
Conditions treated include (but not limited to):
- Nerve Injuries
- Nerve compression syndromes
- Tendon injury
- Wrist/ finger/ thumb instabilities
- Hand pain
- Carpal tunnel pain
- Trigger finger
Our Consultant Radiologists work closely with the Orthopaedic team. Together, they aim to find a swift diagnosis and the very best treatment plan for all their patients. Here are some of the tests we can offer to help diagnose the cause of your hand and wrist pain.
An x-ray can be used to diagnose the potential causes of pain or stiffness in a patient's hand or wrist. It is mainly used to assess the bones for fractures, and to check for chronic conditions such as arthritis.
This is used to identify soft tissue abnormalities such as cysts or ganglions. It can also identify structures causing pressure on nerves in the hand and wrist.
An MRI may be ordered to rule out other potential causes of hand or wrist pain like tumours or fractures that cannot be seen on an X-ray.
A CT scan allows doctors to see detailed images of structures within the body to help identify sources of pain. They can provide more information about underlying conditions like arthritis or ligament tears.
Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS) test:
This test measures nerve function. It allows doctors to determine whether there is nerve damage or compression that could contribute to hand or wrist pain.
This test measures muscle electrical activity along with nerve conduction. It is measured with electrodes inserted into muscles near the hand or wrist. This test can help detect any abnormalities that might be causing pain.
What kind of treatments could you be prescribed?
Hand therapy intervention can include:
Splints can be fabricated from thermoplastic, neoprene or plaster of paris. Splinting offers a costumed bespoke design to protect and position an injury to facilitate healing. Splinting can also be used to rest painful joints, promote movement, prevent deformity and enable functional use of the hand. Your therapist will discuss with you and provide a splint suitable for your clinical indications.
The hand therapy team is skilled in wound care. This includes cleaning, dressing, removal of sutures and advice on wound management. All wound care is provided as per hospital protocols to reduce risk of infection and facilitate healing.
Exercise is provided specifically for rehabilitation post injury. This follows a detailed assessment by the hand therapist. Exercise is important as part of successful rehabilitation post injury or surgery. Exercise can also be used to maintain function and strength.
Manual therapy techniques
Are used to improve mobility, function and to reduce swelling.
Oedema (swelling) management
Swelling post injury or surgery can affect the movement and function in the hand. Effective management can reduce swelling and aid recovery.
Scar tissue is a natural part of the body’s healing process. Scarring can lead to reduced function in the hand or can lead to a sensitive, painful or unsightly scar. Your therapist will assess and guide you with effective care for your scar.
Functional assessment and advice
Any injury to the hand or upper limb can affect how you function in everyday life. This can include home life, work and leisure activities. Your therapist will advise and guide you on how to return to these activities successfully throughout your recovery. In some cases, returning to full function is limited due to the severity of the condition or injury. Your therapist can assess, advise and educate on techniques to enable you to maximise your ability.
What kinds of hand and wrist issues do our consultants treat?
Surgery is often needed to treat hand and upper limb conditions. This will be performed by a specialist hand surgeon, who may be either an orthopaedic surgeon or a plastic surgeon. There are many common conditions that require hand surgery. These include carpal tunnel syndrome, ganglion cysts, and Dupuytrens Contracture. Delicate hand surgery is also needed to repair damage caused by injury or accident. This can include repairing nerves or tendons, or fixing hand and finger fractures with metal plates and screws. Finally, surgery can help treat hand and wrist arthritis through joint replacement.
How do I get this?
If you are awaiting a diagnosis from your GP, you may need a referral letter before you make an appointment. If you are referring for a physiotherapy consultation, you can contact us directly. Please see our Request Appointment Form here.
Is this insured?
Not all services are covered by health insurance. To find out if you're covered, please check your health insurance before your visit. You can do this on our health insurance Cover Check page here, or by contacting your health insurer.
How do I pay?
If you do not have health insurance or your health plan does not cover the full cost, you will need to pay the balance due before your treatment or procedure. You may be able to claim back some fees on your insurance. To pay an excess not covered by your insurance or any other inpatient fees, please visit our payment page here. If you have any queries about paying for your care, please contact the finance team in your hospital.