If you suffer from arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome or other hand pain conditions, finding the right hand therapist can make all the difference in managing your pain and improving your quality of life.
But how do you know where to start? Let’s take a look at what makes a good hand therapist and how to find one that is right for you.
The Importance of a trusted hand therapist
When looking for a great hand therapist, there are certain qualities you should keep an eye out for.
First, it’s important to find someone who is certified and experienced in treating upper extremity conditions. With its intricate muscles, bones and tendons, the upper extremity requires special attention - to ensure optimal health of your hands, wrists or elbows you should look for a therapist with the letters 'CHT' after their name.
CHT stands for Certified Hand Therapist: these professionals have completed thorough testing as well as logged at least 4,000 hours treating conditions related to this delicate area. This training is in addition to existing experience in either physical therapy or occupational therapy.
Secondly, be sure to ask questions during consultations about their experience with similar cases so that you know what kind of results you can expect from treatment. A good hand therapist will be happy to share their knowledge, and will be honest about whether they are a good fit for you.
Finally, look for someone who has an approachable demeanor; having a good rapport with your therapist will go a long way towards making therapy sessions more enjoyable and helping you stay motivated in achieving better hand health.
Investing some time into researching potential therapists will help ensure that you find someone who fits all these criteria and provides the best possible care for your condition!
How to find a hand therapist
You may be referred to a hand therapist by a primary care provider or a surgeon. If you need to find one yourself, the best place to start is the American Society of Hand Therapists website, where you can search for local hand therapists in the directory.
Your hand therapist may operate as a freelance practitioner or as part of a larger clinic. Either way, it's sensible to check online reviews, and to get a sense of whether they would be a good fit for you. You can also ask for recommendations in online patient groups.
What to expect during your first hand therapy appointment
Starting any health care journey can be daunting so it's important that your hand therapist takes the time to understand your specific medical needs.
A great hand therapist should be knowledgeable about the latest research and treatments available for your particular condition, and clearly communicate your options.
And of course, they should be open to listening to your individual concerns throughout the treatment process. Having a good rapport will go a long way in making therapy sessions enjoyable and helping keep motivation levels high throughout treatment.
This process kicks off during the initial evaluation - which is all about getting acquainted. It's best when both parties communicate openly; so don't be shy to ask questions. Expect your hand therapist to review your medical history to create an individualized care plan.
The therapist may recommend joint support products like K-tape, splints or compression gloves. They may need to make you a custom splint using heated thermoplastic expertly molded to fit your hand and arm.
It's likely there may be personalized exercises assigned... so make sure not to skip homework!
Finding the right hand therapist can seem overwhelming, but don't let it intimidate you!
By doing some research into what makes a good hand therapist, asking around for referrals from trusted sources, and reading reviews from existing patients, you'll be able to find the perfect fit for your needs.
With the help of an experienced professional, managing arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other conditions affecting your hands will become much easier—and far less painful! So don't wait—start looking today!