Lecture Focuses on Hand Pain

As published on Green Valley News

written by: Ellen Sussman

12/07/2015 – Aches, pains and discomfort of the hand and arm may be the result of years of physical labor handling heavy loads that is only now taking its toll years later. Pain may also be due to falls, traumatic injuries or arthritis, said Dr. Mark Braunstein at a Wednesday lecture at Green Valley Recreation’s East Center.

Braunstein, an orthopedist at Tucson Orthopedic Institute told an audience of 28 that elbow, wrist and hand pain are common.

Lateral Epicondylitis, also known as “golfers elbow,” may be treated with surgery, which Braunstein said is successful 50 to 80 percent of the time. Less invasive is a cortisone injection that shows results within two to three days.

Stretching exercises often work well for anyone with “tennis elbow,” and splints and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) offer relief for bursitis. Whenever bones, tendons and ligaments move against each other, especially near joints, the contact points are cushioned by small fluid-filled sacs called bursae. When a bursa becomes irritated or swollen, it’s called bursitis.

“The worst pain is from carpal tunnel syndrome. Tendons swell. Blood flow is affected in the hand,” Braunstein said, adding that tingling and/or numbness is a bad sign.

Carpal tunnel syndrome may be treated with night splints, a change or cessation of activity causing the pain. Aches associated with gripping, numbness and a history of overuse may be treated with a splint, massage or cortisone injection.

De Quervain tenosynovitis, named for a Swiss surgeon, is an inflammation of the sheaths that cover the tendons that move the thumb up and out and may also be successfully treated with cortisone.

Arthritis in finger joints may be the result of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, Braunstein said. A common indication of arthritis in the fingers is swollen knuckles, and cortisone injections often provide pain relief in the knuckles, too.

Contact Green Valley freelance reporter Ellen Sussman at ellen2414@cox.net.