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How Do I Treat a Sprained Hand?

Hand pain may be a sign of a sprained hand.
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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 18 April 2014
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Treatment for a sprained hand includes taking over-the-counter medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs and applying ice to the hand. In addition, applying a splint to the sprained hand can immobilize it and promote healing. Symptoms of a sprained hand include pain, inflammation, and bruising. Elevation of the hand can also promote circulation and help with the healing process.

When an injury to the hand occurs, the physician needs to rule out other conditions, such as broken bones or torn ligaments, before the diagnosis of a sprained hand can be made. If torn ligaments are diagnosed, surgery might be recommended. The physician might recommend x-rays of the hand to determine if a any bones are broken bone. If x-rays show no breaks, the diagnosis of a sprained hand can be considered.

Sometimes, a sprained hand can look worse than it actually is. Surprisingly, even when the hand is profoundly discolored due to a sprain, pain is sometimes minimal. When icing a sprained hand, ice should not be applied directly to bare skin. This is not only uncomfortable, it can also cause significant tissue damage, and even frostbite in extreme cases. Placing ice in an ice bag or using a bag of frozen vegetables makes excellent ice packs, as does ice that has been placed in a plastic lunch bag. When using frozen vegetables or a plastic bag with ice, be sure to cover the packs with a clean cloth.

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A sprained hand is commonly caused by a sports injury, and when this occurs, the participant should immediately stop playing and rest the hand. Continuing to play can increase the chance of injury and might even cause damage to already stressed tissues. In cases where pain relievers, ice, and immobilization are not effective in relieving pain, swelling, and range of motion, occupational therapy might be recommended by the physician.

Occupational therapy can help strengthen the hand muscles and improve mobility and range of motion. Through a series of therapeutic exercises and movements, the occupational therapist can often help the individual regain strength and improve finger range of motion. In addition, some physical and occupational therapy clinics offer paraffin wax treatments, where the patient places his hand into a warm wax bath. The warm, hardened paraffin wax is soothing to the hand and it can also increase blood flow and circulation.

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