By Rebecca Storey, OTR/L, CHT
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy was founded in 1917 and today has more than 213,000 OT professionals that practice nationwide. Occupational therapy has evolved over the past centennial to encompass a science-driven, evidence-based profession designed to help clients live their lives to their maximum potential through the focus of mind-body connection and purposeful activities. These things can include anything from your job duties, hobbies, or daily activities such as cooking/dressing/cleaning/etc.
How does Occupational Therapy differ from Physical Therapy?
Part of our rehabilitation team here at Tulsa Bone and Joint includes 4 licensed Occupational Therapists and 1 licensed Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. In the outpatient orthopedic setting, occupational therapists typically treat the upper extremity. Physical therapists typically treat the spine and lower extremities. This can vary depending on the treatment setting. The occupational therapists in our clinics have many years of experience treating upper extremity conditions. They work very closely with our surgeons and orthopedic doctors, providing custom splinting and patient-centered care for various diagnoses.
April is Occupational Therapy Month
Tulsa Bone and Joint would like for you to join us in celebrating our Occupational Therapists. Look for posts on our blog and Facebook throughout the month as we introduce our staff and share some insight as to what drives them as Occupational Therapists and the experiences that lead them to our practice. #OTMonth
By Molly Cook, OTR/L, CHT
Osteoarthritis at the first carpometacarpal joint, or base of the thumb, can cause pain with use of the thumb. When the cartilage wears away from overuse or with time, the bones that create the joint at the base of the thumb can rub and cause pain. The amount of force put through to the base of the thumb is multiplied greatly when pinching or gripping with the thumb.
What can you do to reduce the pain at the base of the thumb?
- Use heat to reduce pain
- Maintain good range of motion
- “Work smarter, not harder”
-Use other parts of your arm to lift or carry objects when possible, which will reduce the use of the thumb, lessening the wear and tear as well as the pain
-Use tools and equipment to better utilize the larger joints of the upper extremity, reducing the force required from the thumb
-Possible tools/equipment include: rubber grippers to open jars, automatic can openers, gel ink pens, any many more.
What do we do in therapy to help reduce pain at the base of the thumb?
- Teach you how to prevent flare-ups and how to best decrease pain during a flare-up
- Fit you with custom-fit orthosis – helps to provide support and better positions the thumb during use of the hand
- Teach you home exercises- stretch tissues that become tightened and strengthen muscles that become weakened with osteoarthritis at the base of the thumb
If you would like to schedule a hand therapy appointment in Tulsa or Owasso, give us a call at 918-392-1552.
By Megan Burkdoll, OT
In the midst of this pandemic, have you transitioned from your work office to your work-at-home office? Did you feel prepared for this transition, or are you still trying to get comfortable in your home office?
As the months tick by, maybe you have started to notice the toll that your new workstation has taken on your body. The once tiny twinge of pain in your elbows has since turned into a nagging pain or near constant “funny bone” sensation. Maybe that pain in your elbows and wrists has led to a tingling in your fingers.
These sensations are not something that you should let linger and grow. Instead, these sensations are red flags from your body that are begging you to make a change. Your body is made of a network of nerves that send information about your environment to the brain. These nerves branch from the spinal cord and can become entrapped, causing damage over time. As symptoms progress, you may start to notice numbness, tingling, and weakness that make it difficult to perform work, household chores, or leisure activities. You may become hesitant to participate in activities due to fear of dropping items from your hands.
Nerves can become irritated or undergo damage by repetitive movements, sustained positions, trauma, tight muscles, scar tissue, or swelling. These symptoms are common with conditions known as carpal tunnel syndrome or cubital tunnel syndrome.
Repetitive use may include activities such as frequent typing or lifting. Resting your arms on the edge of the desk or sleeping with the elbows bent are two common examples of sustained positioning, which often lead to nerve irritation.
Although we commonly associate carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome with people who spend a significant amount of time at a desk, many highly active people are also at risk for developing these conditions. We also see these conditions in nurses, hair stylists, mechanics, gym buffs, or even the new mom who experienced increased swelling in her hands during pregnancy.
If you notice signs of pain, numbness, tingling, or changes in the temperature of your fingers, it is best to seek treatment early. Early intervention or “conservative management” may reverse symptoms and eliminate need for a surgical approach.
Tulsa Bone and Joint has a team of Occupational Therapists on site at both the Tulsa and Owasso locations. Our occupational therapy team will perform a detailed assessment that takes into account your lifestyle, habits, routines, and your personal goals. They address your personal factors, analyze your activities, and provide a uniquely targeted program of activity modifications, ergonomic adjustments, and exercises for symptom management. As always, we continue to serve with excellence and are determined to keep moving life forward!
If you are interested in scheduling an evaluation with our occupational therapy team, give us a call at 918-392-1552.