Injuries to the upper extremities can be just as debilitating as those that happen in our larger muscle groups. From neck pain to limitations in the upper joints, it’s important for patients to seek the help of a physical therapist when they have sustained an injury to their upper extremity. Physical therapy will not only effectively reduce their pain, but it would also help hasten their recovery.
We’ve talked about upper extremity injuries in a previous post. In this post will explore some specific case studies of the upper extremity injuries or chronic conditions that benefit from the intervention of physical therapy and well-chosen modalities.
Case Studies: Injuries or Chronic Conditions Affecting the Upper Extremities
1.Neck Pain: A 67-year-old female patient came to seek physical therapy after sustaining a neck injury from an automobile accident. The accident occurred over a month ago the patient complains of chronic diffuse pain in addition to difficulty turning her head. This has made performing day-to-day activities like driving difficult. In addition to active and passive stretching and range of motion/strengthening therapeutic exercise the use of physical therapy modalities can be useful in reducing her pain.
In this case the practitioner chose to use ultrasound therapy in combined with electrical stimulation as part of a e-stim/ultrasound combination device. Both modalities are effective in treating neck pain on their own when used together and help decrease the pain more efficiently.
2.Frozen Shoulder: A 43-year-old woman is experiencing symptoms related to frozen shoulder. A mother of two, the patient complains of extreme limitations and range of motion and difficulty when picking up her children or performing daily tasks like vacuuming or anything that requires she lift her arms above her head.
The patient tolerates therapeutic exercise well. In addition to active and passive stretching the practitioner utilized a passive continuous shoulder motion machine to help incrementally improve the patients range of motion. To aid the patient in maintaining proper shoulder alignment outside of treatment sessions the practitioner used Kinesio tape to help retrain her posture. Throughout treatment the patient would sometimes complain of triggered pain with exercise. In these instances, a cold compression shoulder wrap was used to help effectively decrease her acute pain.
3.Carpal Tunnel: A 27-year-old male, computer programmer came to physical therapy complaining of pain and reduced function in his wrists. Symptoms were usually exacerbated when patient performed his necessary tasks using his computer or any period of time longer than 30 minutes. Upon evaluation, patient was diagnosed with mild to moderate carpal tunnel with physical therapy recommended with the hopes of avoiding future surgical intervention.
The physical therapist recommended the use of splints in combination with wrist strengthening exercises, passive-stretching and appropriate pain-relieving modalities as needed. One modality that proved to be beneficial in reducing this patient’s pain while improving his range of motion was paraffin therapy.
4.Fibromyalgia: A 32-year-old female diagnosed with fibromyalgia aim to physical therapy or alternative options for reducing pain during her flareups. Noted in the evaluation were postural deficits where the patient had difficulty maintaining a neutral alignment to her head and shoulder and experienced subsequent pain in her neck and thoracic region.
In addition to modalities used during treatment the practitioner recommended the patient use a LED light therapy neck pillow when experiencing a flareup that caused pain in her neck. Further the patient was instructed in the use of a portable TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) device to be utilized at home as needed.
5.Tennis Elbow: A 53-year-old male came to physical therapy complaining of pain in his elbow triggered by his twice weekly tennis games. Diagnosed with tennis elbow, patient is seeking therapy as a way to decrease his pain and reduce the risk of future recurrence.
The practitioner used ultrasound therapy as a pain relief modality because a smaller sound head (1cm or 5 cm) was the perfect size treat an area like the elbow. Additionally, the practitioner programmed the ultrasound treatment with 1MHz because it is more suitable with superficial areas of the body. In addition, when the patient came to treatment with acute pain, a cold compression elbow wrap was used at either the beginning or end of treatment to effectively eliminate pain. Patient tolerated treatment well and resumed weekly tennis games, using cold packs to help reduce any triggered pain. Patient was also educated on the use of contrast therapy to help eliminate any future occurrences of pain. In his case practitioner recommended the alternating use of cold packs and either hot packs or warm water whirlpool therapy.
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We can help your practice find the perfect modality or evaluation tool to help your practitioners treat injuries of the upper extremities. Contact us today and we’ll answer any questions you may have about the benefits of using each device! Call us today at 1-801-770-3328 for more information.