Rehabilitative treatment for hands and feet

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Rehabilitation or physical rehabilitation therapy is aimed at rehabilitating patients as much as possible and providing them with the maximum physical, mental, social and occupational independence. Voluntary movement is an essential requirement for an active life. Therefore, a loss of mobility in the hands or feet leads to functional impairment and an inability to carry out daily tasks.

A large part of the conditions that affect the hands and feet, for example, rheumatic diseases such as arthritis or arthrosis; tendinitis or sprains, involve an alteration of the musculoskeletal system (pain, inflammation and joint stiffness). Some of the conventional physical therapy procedures are heat or thermotherapy and physiotherapeutic massage.

What is thermotherapy?

Thermotherapy is the application of different degrees of heat or cold on the body for therapeutic purposes.

Heat therapy consists of applying superficial heat (based on compresses or hot water baths, infra-red lamps or heat patches) or deep heat (microwave, ultrasound, etc.) on the skin.

The thermotherapy action mechanism produces muscle relaxation and local vasodilation; this helps to wash away the alginogenic substances that cause pain. The increased blood flow produces a reduction in muscle stiffness, which in turn triggers a muscle relaxing effect leading to relief from the discomfort. Furthermore, applying heat helps in recovering the collagen elasticity of the skin and subcutaneous tissue. However, cold therapy or cryotherapy (the application of cold for therapeutic purposes) is very useful in treating minor traumatic accidents and sports injuries during the first 48 hours after they have occurred. The cold reduces the spasm and reduces inflammation and swelling.

Sometimes the alternating combination of cold and heat, in the form of contrast baths, can be very useful for certain injuries that are extremely inflammatory.

Thermotherapy for treating osteoarthritis in the hands

For osteoarthritis in the hands, placing them in a bucket of hot water, paraffins, or balsamic-effect herbal products specifically formulated for joint pain can be effective in mitigating stiffness and numbness.

On the other hand, when an outbreak occurs, it is a good idea to apply something cold, since this reduces inflammation and swelling.

Tips to relieve the discomfort of osteoarthritis in the hands

In addition to hand baths with hot water and balsamic plant-based products, the following tips may be helpful in avoiding or reducing discomfort:

  • Sleep with your hands at heart level, not on them.
  • Do not make excessive clamping or twisting efforts with your hands:
    • Do not needle sew.
    • Use scissors with long arms, thick pens and pencils and for short periods.
    • Use glasses or cups with handles or hold them with both hands.
    • Use electrical appliances to squeeze, peel, or whisk food.
    • Do not hold a lot of weight with your hands (distribute the weight on the forearm and shoulder).
    • Avoid taps or locks with small or difficult to turn handles (better handles or lever than a knob).
  • It is recommended to move your fingers, but you should avoid activities that require a lot of force:
    • It is better to write with a computer keyboard than by hand.
    • Stretching, flexing, and extending exercises are helpful to strengthen the muscles and improve mobility (do not exercise during inflammatory flare ups).

Tips to relieve the discomfort of osteoarthritis in the feet

When osteoarthritis affects the feet, it is also important to follow some tips to reduce discomfort:

  • Comfortable footwear: for osteoarthritis in the feet, it is advisable to wear comfortable footwear that supports the foot well, cotton socks, not to wear very high heels on a regular basis, not to wear shoes with narrow toes and to avoid walking on uneven, stony or steeply sloping surfaces.
  • Walk daily: walk for at least half an hour a day taking short breaks.
  • Have a foot bath with hot water and herbal products with a balsamic effect in the morning and at night.
  • Once the tension of the foot is relaxed, do some exercises to relax its structures: take the toes and flex them up and down, trying to hold them in place for a few seconds when the limit of movement is reached; slowly move the ankle up, down and in circles, helping yourself with the opposite hand; Gently turn the foot lengthways (to do this, hold the front of the foot with the opposite hand and turn it slowly to one side and the other), put a small ball on the ground and rub it with the sole of the foot, turning it slowly without pressing down too hard.
  • When in pain, it is advisable not to force the affected joint.

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