Photobiomodulation Therapy for Hands & Wrists
Our hands and wrists are sophisticated systems of small bones, joints, tendons, and other structures, but they’re also fairly delicate, as these structures aren’t protected by thick layers of muscle. Damage from either overuse or an accident can permanently change the way we interact with the world, so recognizing symptoms of damage and finding treatment early is important.
Laser therapy, also called photobiomodulation therapy, can help reduce inflammation and pain while improving function in the hands and wrists affected by chronic or acute concerns. Keep reading to see how laser therapy can address different hand and wrist problems.
Common Hand & Wrist Complications
Our hands and wrists are important tools for many of the actions we take, and for many of us, fine, quick, and repetitive movements of the hands and wrists are a big part of daily activities: cooking, typing, playing a musical instrument, operating a vehicle, or even playing the latest mobile phone game. This puts continued strain on our hands and the many joints and connective tissues, putting all of us at risk for overuse complications, like arthritis and tendonitis.
Arthritis is a broad term for a variety of diseases that affect joint tissues and structures. The arthritis many are familiar with is osteoarthritis, or “wear-and-tear” arthritis, where the joint structures deteriorate over time. Pain and inflammation are caused by thinned connective tissues that allow bone to rub on bone. With 27 joints in each hand, arthritic hand and wrist pain can drastically impact our daily lives. And once joint structures begin to wear down, repairing the damage can be difficult.
Tendonitis is another chronic condition caused by overuse. Inflammation of the tendons is caused by regular repetitive motions without sufficient warmup and rest. While tendonitis can affect any tendon in the body at any age, hands and wrists are highly susceptible. From professional musicians to avid video game players, quick, complex, and repetitive hand motions are part of our everyday lives.
The two major types of tendonitis seen in hands affect the ECU tendon on the ulnar, or pinkie, side of the hand or the tendons in the thumb, known as DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis. Individuals whose work or hobbies require the wrist to bend outwards (leading with the pinkie) are more likely to experience tendonitis in the ECU, while those who regularly stretch their thumbs out or bare weight on their thumbs are more prone to DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis.
Lastly, there’s the carpal tunnel, which is a narrow passageway on the palm side of the hand that contains the end of the median nerve. When the carpal tunnel is made more narrow through injury or otherwise compresses on the median nerve, there can be numbness in the hand as well as a weak grip. Carpal tunnel syndrome is not a kind of tendonitis as it affects a nerve, not the tendon itself. However, individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome can permanently damage their median nerve if left untreated, limiting feeling and control of the affected hand.
Hands and wrists are also often victims of acute injury. Whether a finger is accidentally shut in a door or we catch ourselves with our hands when we fall, there’s plenty of little bones in our hands that can fracture from impact or other trauma.
How Laser Therapy Helps Repair Hand & Wrist Concerns
Laser therapy is a type of photobiomodulation therapy that utilizes specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared (NIR) light to boost the production of cellular energy. Red and NIR light have been shown to increase production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is responsible for the transport of energy in and out of cells. Higher levels of ATP from photobiomodulation therapy help increase the body’s natural healing processes, such as encouraging cell proliferation and temporarily widening blood and lymphatic vessels to allow inflammatory mediators to damaged areas.
Laser therapy is a targeted approach to photobiomodulation therapy that focuses a concentrated beam of red or NIR light on a specific area of the body. Therapeutic lasers are powerful medical devices, but they don’t induce tissue heating, so they won’t burn or damage skin.
When it comes to treating hand and wrist concerns, laser therapy is a pain-free option to reduce inflammation that treats the problem at the source. Other treatments, such as pain relieving medications, only block pain receptors, while options like cortisone injections are painful, have a risk of infection, and can actually contribute to joint structure deterioration when used for a long period of time. Laser therapy has no long-term side effects (or needles), and many feel results quickly. Additionally, there’s no downtime, and you can return to your regular activities after each treatment.
Resolving hand and wrist complications in early stages is important; left untreated, complications like carpal tunnel syndrome may only be improved through surgery, which is costly, painful, and requires long periods of downtime and recovery. Laser therapy can help with nerve regeneration and improve different kinds of neuropathy, improving conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome before the need for surgery.
Aspen Laser’s Advanced Class IV Laser Therapy Treatment
Aspen Laser is world leader in advanced class IV laser therapy devices. Our laser therapy systems give providers the ability to completely customize treatments to each individual, and with our systems at over 200 locations world-wide, there’s an Aspen Laser specialist in your neighborhood.
Ready to resolve hand and wrist pain for good? Click the link below to find Aspen Laser providers near you.