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What are the Different Types of Wrist Rehabilitation?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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An individual who has experienced a wrist injury or suffers from a debilitating joint condition may need to undergo physical therapy to regain strength and flexibility. It usually takes weeks or even months to fully recover following an injury or surgical procedure, though wrist rehabilitation therapy can significantly reduce healing time. People with wrist pain due to arthritis or similar disorders may need long-term physical therapy to help overcome problems. Many wrist rehabilitation techniques and stretching exercises can be performed at home, but some conditions require professional services provided by licensed physical therapists.

Even a minor wrist injury like a sprain or a bruise can present discomfort and a loss of strength. Most doctors recommend that individuals try to avoid using their injured wrists for several days, then engage in light wrist rehabilitation techniques to build strength and improve flexibility. There are a number of simple exercises that can help shorten healing time. When a person is performing any stretching and strengthening exercises, he or she should be very careful not to overexert the wrist and cause further damage.

A common exercise involves repetitively making a loose fist. Keeping the wrist straight, an individual can close his or her fist, return the hand to a relaxed position, and repeat. The wrist can also be rotated in small circles to help relieve stiffness and tension. Another technique that is often used to improve flexibility is slowly bending the fingers backward, though doctors frequently caution people to discontinue this activity if it causes additional pain.

Any serious wrist pain or mobility loss should be reported to a doctor, who can make a diagnosis and determine the best wrist rehabilitation strategies. Surgery may be needed to repair damaged bone or cartilage, followed by several physical therapy sessions. Trained physical therapists work closely with doctors and patients to create custom rehabilitation plans and goals. While helping a patient engage in exercises, the therapist carefully monitors progress and analyzes the effectiveness of treatment.

Depending on the ability level of a patient, a professional wrist rehabilitation session might involve stretching activities, resistance exercises, or weight training. Stretching techniques are often similar to the ones performed at home, with the additional benefit of a trained expert monitoring progress and results. In resistance training, the therapist might ask the patient to pull on elastic bands or push against a hard surface to help strengthen joints.

A popular weight training technique involves a rod that is connected to a weight with a rope. The patient holds the rod in front of the body with both hands, and slowly winds up the rope using only the wrists. He or she then lowers the weight back to the floor by rotating the rod in the opposite direction. Other rehabilitation strategies may involve performing curls or picking up progressively heavier objects. When exercises are performed correctly, rehabilitation promotes fast, full recoveries from wrist problems.

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Discussion Comments
By SarahGen — On Jun 02, 2014

@fify-- First of all, see your doctor again and describe your issues. You may have a different kind of injury that went unnoticed, such as a stress fracture.

If your doctor thinks it will be beneficial and decides to send you to a physical therapist, I think you should definitely go. Doing exercises at home is great but sometimes it's necessary to get guidance from a professional.

The therapist will not only teach you what to do to get your wrist healthy and functioning again, but he will also teach you how to prevent injuries in the future. I personally think that physical therapy and rehabilitation is always superior to home exercises for this reason.

By fify — On Jun 01, 2014

I sprained my wrist two months ago and wore a splint brace for some time. But my wrist has never really returned to normal. It still hurts and I can't do repetitive motions. Do I need rehabilitation by a therapist? Or should I just look up exercises and try to do them at home?

By ZipLine — On Jun 01, 2014

I think stretching exercise are a great place to start for wrist rehabilitation. After my wrist surgery, I could not use my wrist normally and resistance and strengthening exercises were too much to handle. My wrist was still healing and I needed to go easy on it. But I also felt the need to stretch the muscles which seemed to not only help with range of motion but also healing as well. So I think it's best to start out with stretching exercises and slowly move on to the others.

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