Certified hand therapist Laura McCarthy, OTR, CHT demonstrates how to reduce swelling in your hand or wrist.
Swelling is a Normal Response
Swelling is the body’s natural reaction to injury, however, excessive swelling can be more hindering than healing. In this video, certified Hand Therapist, Laura McCarthy, demonstrates how to reduce swelling in the hand and wrist.
Start with Retrograde Massage for Swollen Fingers
We typically start with retrograde massage, and using lotion makes it easier. While doing retrograde massage you want to push the fluid back towards the heart. Start at the fingers and move towards the wrist and elbow. It is important to only go in that one direction. We encourage our patients to do retrograde massage for about five minutes, two to three times a day.
Compression Garments Help Reduce Swelling
After you’ve completed your retrograde massage apply an appropriate compression garment. We use:
- Isotoner compression gloves
- Tubigrip compression sleeves
- Digital compression sleeves
- Coban wrapping
Your therapist will help you decide which compression garment is best for you. Be sure to watch your fingertips! If they turn purple or become cold to the touch, the garment may be too tight.
Have you sustained an injury between or including your shoulder and fingertips? Do you suspect that your workplace environment is causing you pain? If so, you could be a candidate for hand therapy services at LB Hand Therapy in Maryland. Visit our Where to Begin page to become a patient.
Hi, I’m Laura McCarthy of LB Hand Therapy and we’re here today to talk about swelling reduction.
Why Do We Swell?
Swelling is a natural part of the healing process. Swelling is what carries the building blocks down to heal a wound. So if you’re ever cut yourself in the kitchen, you’ll notice by the time you wash it off in the sink, the edges of the wound are gaping. That’s swelling being pulled down into the area to form the network to heal the wound.
So often times when you break a finger or a wrist, you’ll notice a lot of swelling in the area. This is due to the swelling coming down through the circulation system, so the arteries which are in the center of the extremity and then it’s being pushed out through the veins, which are on the outer side of the extremity. There is a pressure gradient difference. And so what happens is often times the finger or the wrist will look very puffy and swollen.
What To Do
So what we do to take the swelling down is we do something called retrograde massage. So we take lotion, which is just a lubricant and we massage the finger or wrist back towards the elbow (demonstrates massaging down the fingers/hand/wrist).
And you repeat this, I usually tell my patients for about 5 minutes, to lower the swelling (demonstrates massaging down the wrist and forearm).
Notice I am only going in one direction. We do this for about 5 minutes, just to really make sure we have as low a pressure as we can.
We follow it by putting on some sort of compressive garment. Tubigrip sleeve that stretches for the wrist. Isotoner gloves to help with hand swelling. Coban wrap for fingers and digital sleeves for fingers. We usually put this on after the retrograde massage. The garment should fit snug, but not too tight. If your fingertips are cold after you’ve put them on for a little bit, then the garment is too tight. Just remove it and let the circulation return.
Thank you for watching this video, I hope you found it helpful. If you need further information, please check our website LBHandTherapy.com. And again, thank you for watching.