Wrist and hand pain
To tell the truth, this is a problem area that many osteopaths do not see very often. Frequently, discomfort and especially pins and needles are referred to the wrist and hand from above i.e the elbow, shoulder and neck.
Hand and wrist pain can be from direct trauma which can range from a fall or just from having an over enthusiastic pet dog tugging suddenly or/and too hard.
If the problem has had a gradual onset and swelling at the joints is involved then there is quite likely to be some osteoarthritis or if heat is involved rheumatoid arthritis. OA and RA tend to run in families and it always seems that some people are unfairly affected i.e I have often seen one woman with almost crippling pain and she will inform me that her sister has no problem at all in that area.
If you have tingling, pain, numbness predominantly to your thumb and 2nd and 3rd fingers which is usually worse at night and is relieved by shaking the hand, then this is most likely going to be carpal tunnel syndrome. Mild symptoms can be relieved by strong stretching above the wrist. The good news is that in severe cases the problem is solved by a ( relatively ) straight forward operation.
Hand and wrist pain caused by bad Tennis or Golfer’s elbow is quite common. The treatment of choice here is shockwave therapy. Go to shockwave page for more information.
How osteopathy can help hand and foot pain
Vague and unexplained pain to the wrist, hands and feet can often be helped by having the joints mobilised, soft tissue work done to the forearm muscles alongside some acupuncture.
I have lost count of the times when someone has come in with an undiagnosed problem to the wrist or mid foot joints. They have usually been sent away from the GPs with pain killers and advice to rest. After an examination, a proper single diagnosis was not made BUT then one or two sessions of mobilising the affected joints plus soft tissue work to the local muscles ( tendons ) have either cured the problem OR made it a lot better. This to me is the magic of osteopathy – if in doubt, do a general treatment to the area ( plus surrounding areas ) and often one will find a very positive reaction as the body has just been HELPED TO HELP ITSELF.
New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel Oil
This is a fish oil supplement that I came across via my mother 20 years ago. She had been suffering from mild, niggling wrist and thumb pain for sometime. She joined an painting class in Bristol and during one lesson the subject of painful hands came up. It turned out that almost all the women there were taking NZGLMO as it had helped a good few of them so much in the past. Well, if you can’t beat them, join them, and mother started on the supplements.
Like other supplements, the benefits can sometimes take a couple of months and so my Mum started on the suggested dose of 3 tablets a day for the first month, the 2 tablets a day UNTIL some sign of improvement could be seen. If/when this happens one cuts down to 1 a day. She was in the lucky group where there was an obvious improvement and so she has been taking NZGLMO ever since.
We know that it definitely works as there have been several times in the past when she has stopped taking it, the wrist and thumb ache has returned SO she restarted it and the discomfort had gone or at least significantly decreased again.
For this reason, I have been recommending it ever since. Fish oil supplements are very good for most people anyway. It seems that NZGLMO has some additional anti-inflammatory agent in it. Various health companies have tried to isolate the a.i part of the substance but it seems that it is only effective in it’s original form. Buying it from a health food shop like Holland & Barretts can be expensive BUT if bought from a reputable online seller ( Vitamins Direct ) the price can almost halve.
Ankle and foot pain
The ankle is a remarkable joint really. For all the abuse it gets holding up our bodies it suffers relatively little when compared to knee and hip joints.
Achilles tendon problems
The most common ankle problem most health professionals see is an achilles strain or tendonitis. These problems usually repair quite well IF the area can be rested, cold packing is done, anti-inflammatory gel is used AND the calf muscles are worked on with sort tissue techniques. Acupuncture is often very useful here.
If the above techniques do not help the problem, the first treatment option is Shockwave therapy. Please go to the shockwave therapy page for further information about this. Please note that this therapy has different costs.
Heel spurs and/or plantar fasciitis
These cause pain ( predominantly ) on weight bearing right under the heel bone ( the calcaneous ).
Heel spurs are often associated with plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation of the fibrous band of connective tissue (plantar fascia) that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the ball of the foot.
Treatments for heel spurs and associated conditions include exercise, orthotics, anti-inflammatory medications and corticosteroid injections. Shockwave treatment has been shown to be more effective than injections by a lot of high quality research.
Shockwave treatment is now recommended by all orthopaedic surgeons before surgery is considered.
Causes of heel spurs
Heel spurs occur when calcium deposits build up on the underside of the heel bone, a process that usually occurs over a period of many months. Heel spurs are often caused by strains on foot muscles and ligaments, stretching of the plantar fascia and repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone. Heel spurs are especially common among athletes who do a lot of running and jumping.
Risk factors for heel spurs include:
- Walking gait abnormalities, which place excessive stress on the heel bone, ligaments and nerves near the heel.
- Running or jogging, especially on hard surfaces.
- Poorly fitted or badly worn shoes, especially those lacking appropriate arch support.
- Excess weight and obesity.
How osteopathy helps FOOT pain
One of the best self help exercises I have come across in the last 20 years helps with plantar fasciitis.
Get a can of baked beans ( any can of anything really, you must have an out of date can in a cupboard somewhere! ) and put it in the freezer. When frozen, sit comfortable in front of the TV or radio and ROLL the very cold tin along the arch of your foot. Put as much pressure on it as is comfortable. By doing this, the fascia is being stretched plus the painful spur area is being iced. IF the problem is caught soon enough then just by doing this plus getting some orthotics ( via a recommended chiropodist ) can more or less solve the problem.
IF… the problem is recalcitrant ( re occurring ) or very chronic ( 5yrs plus ) or has recovered but plateaued out at say 70-80% better orthopaedic surgeons will ALWAYS recommend shockwave therapy before surgery is even thought about. SW has been proven to give better results than steroid injections.
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