What Should I Expect from Wrist Physical Therapy?

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  • Written By: Dana Hinders
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 September 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Wrist pain can be caused by sudden movement, improper movement, or overuse. Compression of the nerves for your arm and wrist at the cervical spine can cause tingling, numbness, or burning. The most common forms of wrist pain are tennis elbow and golfer's elbow, although you don't need to actually play tennis or golf to have these conditions. Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) or Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD) are less common conditions, but they are more difficult to treat since they typically involve wrist pain as well as problems with the neck and shoulders.

Wrist physical therapy is not necessary for all cases of wrist pain. Ice packs or the use of over the counter pain killers can be sufficient for relieving minor pain. Generally, experts recommend seeking the assistance of a physical therapist only if the pain persists for more than two weeks or consists of multiple episodes of discomfort over one year. You can be referred to a physical therapist by your physician, although this is not always necessary, depending upon what type of insurance coverage you have.


When you begin wrist physical therapy, you'll be asked questions about your current level of discomfort, factors that trigger your pain, and how you first injured yourself. Since working at a desk, playing sports such as golf or tennis, and playing a musical instrument can aggravate a wrist injury, you'll probably be asked about your participation in these activities as well. If you have been seeing a physician, acupuncturist, chiropractor, or other health care provider, the physical therapist will want to have these medical records available when developing a wrist treatment plan.

While completing a wrist rehabilitation program, you'll undergo periodic physical examinations to test your mobility, reflexes, and whether or not certain movements seem to aggravate your symptoms. The physical therapist may use ultrasound or electric stimulation therapies as part of your treatment plan. Massage and training in relaxation techniques are often a component of wrist physical therapy as well.

While the main purpose of wrist physical therapy is to alleviate your pain, a good physical therapist will also address the steps you can take to keep from having another episode. It is common for the therapist to give you a set of wrist exercises you can do at home. The physical therapist should take the time to discuss how return to your daily activities without risking further injury. The use of wrist rests, braces, and other supportive equipment may be recommended as part of wrist physical therapy depending upon the cause and extent of your injuries.



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