There have been many times over the course of my career as an Occupational Therapist and a Certified Hand Therapist that I have wished that I had a magic wand to wield. But, alas, although the body has this incredible capacity to heal injury and remodel scar over a period of time, the recovery process is a journey rather than teletransportation. So, when I came across a Facebook advertisement several weeks ago for a company that is touting a "magic wand" to "cure" Dupuytren contractures, I felt compelled to respond.
Dupuytren Disease is a genetic predisposition of the tissue under the palm of the skin to over-develop and create bumps, dimples and nodules in the palm. If the disease progresses, the nodules may become cords or bands that wrap around the finger tendons, pulling the fingers into a bent and contracted position. Dupuytren Disease occurs more commonly in men of Northern European descent and is frequently called "The Viking Disease". The chance of developing Dupuytren contractures becomes more common as a person ages.
It would be wonderful if we could count on magic as a cure for disease, particularly in these times of global distress with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, especially now, it is important to lean on science and facts rather than wizadry and supposition. It is also the time to question the motives of those trying to sell us vaguely defined products with huge promises but no details.
Let's take a look at some Dupuytren facts versus magical fiction:
If you do have a Dupuytren procedure performed and would like additional information on the rehabilitation aspects of recovery, please visit my Dupuytren website: dupuytren-contractures.weebly.com
My Top Picks for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday & Cyber Monday - the best gifts for those with hand pain or injuries.
Black Friday, Small-Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are once again upon us. Are you looking for the perfect gift for family, friends or co-workers who suffer from the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, or arthritic hand joints? Or perhaps you deserve to treat yourself??
Here are my top 10 picks (plus 1 bonus) of items that I frequently recommend for my hand therapy clients - in no particular order.
A new recommendation this year to my gift list of frequently recommended products is the UnBuckleMe infant carrier and child car seat unbuckler. I saw it first demonstrated at our annual hand therapy conference and purchased one for my co-worker who was having some thumb pain when releasing her grandchildren from their seats. It works as advertised. Designed by an occupational therapist who has arthritis, this product reduces the force of unbuckling infant and child car seats by more than 50%.
As the prices have come down making these paraffin was units more affordable for an at-home-spa treat, I find myself recommending them more and more frequently to my clients. A paraffin bath is not only good for relaxation but can help ease the deep ache caused by many hand injuries. The deep heat coating the hand is good for increasing the flexibility of joints and easing joint pain caused by arthritis. The mineral oil in the wax as well the direct application onto the hand can help to soften a thick scar.
Kinesiotape was developed by Japanese physician Dr. Kenzo Kase over 25 years ago "as a sports taping method which could assist in the healing of traumatized tissue and muscles." Kinesiotape was the original brand. Made popular by KT Tape with the application on 2008 Olympic athletes, now over 150 brands are available and the use of this therapeutic taping techniques has became a widely used modality that we provide to a number of our clients on a daily basis as part of their treatment plan. Seen on many athletes, therapeutic tape does not bind the joints for support the way athletic tape does but rather lies on the muscle belly. The wave-like pattern of the adhesive, as well as mild stretch, lifts the surface of the skin, increases lymphatic and blood flow to the area, and relaxes the tissues around the superficial free nerve endings - providing some instant pain relief for most people! Instructions for application are usually provided in the box. There are also multiple online videos that show proper application. Base your purchasing needs on cost, colors and patterns, water resistance level, and latex sensitivity.
Another product that premiered at our annual hand therapy conference several years ago is the Lazy Hands phone grip that comes with 2, 3 or 4 loops providing a secure grip on Smart Phones or Tablets and eases hand tension created by holding devices. There are now some alternative methods on the market as well including phone rings that can alternatively act as a stand and the commonly seen pop-sockets. I have a Lazy-Hands for demonstration purposes in the clinic that I may eventually claim for my own. I currently use a pop-socket, which is helpful, but does not feel as secure. Also, if the phone happens to heat up, the adhesive softens and the pop-socket will occasionally slide or even pop off. In spite of this, the pop-socket is much more secure than I thought it was going to be.
Ergonomically Designed Computer Accessories
Always high on my recommendation list for those with hand injuries or pain are ergonomically-designed accessories to improve the use of electronic devices. I often demonstrate the following pieces of equipment in the clinic:
A Large-Barreled Pen or Ergonomically Designed Pen
When many people write, they use much more tension than they realize. For those who have hand pain or injury, using a larger barreled pen such as the Dr. Grip, a felt-tip pen that writes smoothly, or an ergonomically designed pen such as the PenAgain can ease thumb pain and hand cramping. I have used and recommended all of the following.
Gadgets & Gizmos
For those with hand pain or injury, using gadgets and gizmos designed to improve the way we work and the way we organize activities can be quite helpful.
A Good Book
Give a book that gives the gift of health. I have the following books available as a resource in the clinic for my clients.
A Good Cold (or Hot) Pack
Essentials for every household, for both temporary and chronic injuries, both heat and cold can temporarily change the way that pain signals travel along the neural pathway to be recognized by the brain. Cold is great for acute inflammation while heat can be good for more chronic pain, particularly a nervy type of pain.
Download an App or Subscribe to a Program
Head Space and Breathe 2 Relax are just two of many free apps, paid apps or apps requiring a paid subscription that can provide guidance in relaxation techniques, meditation and mindfulness approaches, deep breathing instruction and stretching guidance that will help reduce muscular stress and tension.
Smart Watches, Wearable Tech & Fitness Trackers, Digital Assistants
Smart watches, fitness trackers, digital assistants and wearable tech is a rapidly changing arena for health promotion. The next few years will see many changes and offer new methods of health assessment and healthcare delivery. The Apple watch and other wearable tech and our digital assistants such as the Amazon Echo can now provide timely reminders to move if we're too sedentary, to take deep breaths if our heart rates increase, provide us with guidance in workout and stretching routines, and provide us with feedback about current behaviors and suggestions on how to improve our health. It will be fascinating to see where this ground-breaking technology takes us in the next few years.
Happy Shopping! Marji