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What is hand therapy?

Hand therapy is rehabilitation to the upper limb, including the fingers to the shoulder. It is practiced by a qualified physiotherapist or occupational therapist, who has developed specific skills in the assessment and treatment of hand and upper limb injuries and conditions.

A practitioner of hand therapy will assess your injured area by observation, referral report, imaging, objective and subjective measurements. This will give a better picture of what is going on an anatomical level and how to proceed with treatment.

Treatment includes selecting appropriate ways to assist repair the injury that is suitable for your lifestyle and functionality. Hand therapy treatment options include wound management, custom made splints (rigid thermoplastic and soft materials), exercises programs, wax baths, electrical stimulation therapies, dry needling, or assistive devices. The aim of a therapy program is to project the injury, maintain movement to that area and re-strengthen, aiming to return functional. Your therapist may choose a range of tools to assist with the treatment of your injury. Therapist are very good at tailoring therapy programs to the patients needs and using a range of innovative resources to assist treat your injury, e.g. slosh pipes. It is important that you understand the objective of each tool and contact your therapist if you have any questions.

You do not need a referral to see a therapist, unless claiming through workers compensation. Your therapist can sometimes refer you for further imaging or on to other medical specialists dependent on your type of injury.

Please see a list of injuries commonly seen by therapists:

  • Post-op wound and scar management

  • Fractures (scaphoid, distal radius, fingers, metacarpals)

  • Tendon ruptures (flexor tendon lacerations, extensor tendon injuries)

  • Nerve compression/injuries (Carpal tunnel syndrome, Cubital tunnel syndrome)

  • Instability (TFCC injuries, wrist fractures)

  • Tendonitis (DeQuervain’s syndrome, Tennis elbow, Golfers elbow, trigger finger)

  • Dupuytren’s contracture

  • Chronic injuries (arthritis, trapeziectomies)

  • Finger injuries (Mallet fingers, Boutonniere’s deformity, Skier’s thumb, volar plate injuries, finger fractures)

  • Rotator cuff injuries

  • Lymphoedema

  • Pain



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