Therapy For Nerve-damaged Hands

Written by Pam MS, NCSP | Fact checked by Psychology Dictionary staff 

The symptoms that accompany hand nerve damage includes everything from tingling and numbness to chronic pain, generalized weakness or reduced flexibility. Therapy helps rebuild function losses while reducing discomfort. Under the supervision of a physician or a therapist, there are various techniques that patients may use at home.

Water Therapy

Soaking hands in warm water before therapy helps enhance blood circulation while encouraging the relaxation of stiff, tight muscles and connective tissues. The soothing effect also interferes with pain signals and eases discomfort. The natural resistance encountered when moving in water additionally applies enough of an opposing force to gradually increase strength.

While sitting in a bathtub or hot tub, make a 90-degree bend in the elbow on the affected side. Turn the hand and wrist so the palm faces upward. Remain in this position for at least 10 seconds. Turn the hand and wrist so the palm faces downward. Hold for a count of 10 seconds. Relax your hand, wrist and arm. As the tissues relax, gently and slowly alternate between making a fist and fully extending all of the fingers outward. Repeat the exercise five to ten times.

Alternative Heating Methods

Warm moist towels or heating pads are other effective ways to relax tight tissues and improve blood circulation before exercising. A light application of capsaicin cream or similar therapeutic ointment effectively penetrates tissues to create a soothing warmth that also decreases pain and stiffness. With repeated use day and night, adverse symptoms gradually decline.

Coordination, Dexterity and Flexibility

Depending on the type and location of nerve damage that one or both hands endure, patients may lose effective use of their fingers. With the hands relaxed after warming, with palms facing upward, touch the tip of the thumb to the tip of the index finger and hold for approximately two seconds. Continue the process with each finger. Relax your hand, and repeat the exercise five to ten times.

Small Chinese hand balls are another method of improving muscle strength and tone in order to enhance overall function. Put two balls in the upturned palm of the affected hand. With the elbow bent and the forearm parallel to the floor, rotate the balls using the fingers. Keep the balls touching each other at all times. Perform the exercise for one or two minutes and relax. Repeat the exercise as tolerated.

Grip

The ability to grip objects suffers when the ulnar nerve that spans from the hand and wrist to the shoulder becomes injured. Hand muscles are easily strengthened by holding and squeezing a tennis ball for a count of 10 seconds. Relax for another 10 seconds and repeat the exercise. An alternative method involves repeatedly kneading a ball of clay with the affected hand.

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