Get a Grip: Treat Tendon Damage with Chiropractic Care
By Martha Michael
Baking bread or working with wood, your hands get a workout through the stages of life. And whether you’re creating a piece of art or have a job that’s physically taxing, injuries to the tendons in your hands can make you immobilized and separate you from your life’s work.
You lose movement when the tendons in your hand are damaged or cut and, depending on which tendons are ruptured, you either can’t straighten your fingers or you have trouble making a fist.
The website for the National Health Service UK explains the difference between the two types of tendons in your hand. Extensor tendons enable you to straighten your fingers and they stretch from your forearm down the top of your hand to your thumb and fingers. Beginning in your forearm and running through your wrist and down your palms, flexor tendons enable you to bend your fingers. Injuries to flexor tendons tend to infringe upon your lifestyle more than extensor tendons.
Either injury can really cramp your style.
Causes of Tendon Damage
- Injuries - If you’ve fallen or been in an auto accident and your hand is crushed, or there are cuts to your palms or the back of your hand, your tendons may be damaged.
- Arthritis - Your tendons may become inflamed, or swollen, if you have rheumatoid arthritis or a related condition. In acute cases it can cause tendons to rupture.
- Violent actions - If you punch something or someone, you may suffer damage to the tendons. If you’re bitten by a person or animal, it can also rupture the tendons.
- Athletics - Extensor tendon damage is a risk in any contact sport. Grabbing the jersey of an opponent in rugby, for example, can pull the tendons away from the bone. Also, an athlete attempting to catch a ball can stub his/her finger and rupture extensor tendons.
The University of Michigan website says most cases of tendon damage to the hands are the result of overuse. Problems from overuse of your hands include:
- Tendon pain - Tendinosis is a condition in which there are multiple small tears, or microtears, in the tissue surrounding your tendons. Symptoms include a decrease in strength, restricted movement and pain.
- De Quervain’s disease - When the sheath that covers the tendon in your thumb becomes inflamed, you may develop De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Patients experience symptoms such as pain in the thumb, wrist or forearm and have trouble pouring or lifting. The cause is unknown, but experts theorize it’s the result of repeated thumb and wrist motion, ranging from small movements such as knitting to larger movements such as heavy lifting.
- Trigger finger - When you can’t move your thumb or finger and it feels as though it’s stuck in position, you may be experiencing trigger finger. Sometimes it causes a bump in your palm near the finger it’s affecting, or a clicking and snapping when you move. In the case of trigger finger, your flexor tendon and the sheath around it are swollen, so the tendon can’t glide smoothly. The cause is relatively unknown, but most patients are suffering from a disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes.
If you have damage to the tendons in your hand, it’ll become obvious from restrictions in everyday use. Visiting a chiropractor is a good way to identify the nature of the injury and develop a treatment plan.
Your chiropractor will probably suggest you rest the affected hand as much as possible. You may need a splint to restrict your use of it and support the fingers involved, especially to treat extensor tendon damage. A chiropractor may also recommend that you apply cold compresses to the area.
In the case of tendon damage, getting help from a healthcare provider as soon as possible is the best way to minimize damage to your fingers, hand and wrist. Because of their understanding of the nature of joints, muscles and tendons, reaching out to your chiropractor for assessment brings you more information and a treatment plan or possible referral to bring you closer to recovery.
The sooner you begin treatment, the quicker you regain the range of motion in your hands. In other words, it means that a return to work or to your favorite avocation is finally within your grasp.
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