When you first meet with your consultant, they will take a medical history and talk with you about your symptoms. They will ask you some questions as they investigate the potential causes of your pain, like:
- What symptoms have you been experiencing?
- How long have you had these symptoms?
- Have they become worse over time?
- What type of pain is it?
- Is the pain localised or does it spread up through your arm?
They will also perform a clinical examination of the affected area and ask you to perform some simple movements and tasks to demonstrate your symptoms.
Additional investigations are sometimes needed to help with diagnosis. This will often start with an X-ray of your hand and wrist to show the bony structure of the hand and wrist. This can help exclude a problem with the bones if there are no abnormalities. Ultrasound can be useful for looking at structures closer to the skin while an MRI scan is helpful to visualise deeper structures. These can all be easily carried out on-site.
Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, a treatment plan can then be introduced. This may include physiotherapy, bracing, steroid injection or, if necessary, an operation.
If the cause is still unclear and the problem is coming from within a joint, your consultant may advise an arthroscopy (a form of keyhole surgery). This involves passing a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera and light attached to it through a small cut in your wrist. This transmits a live feed to a screen, allowing your consultant to see directly inside the joint. This is a day case procedure with a rapid recovery time.
Many hand and wrist conditions can be treated effectively with conservative (non-surgical) means. As an example, a severe sprain may take anywhere from 12-18 months to fully recover from. During this time, our experience physiotherapists would work closely with you, guiding you through a personalised rehabilitation programme to help maintain use of your hand. This would help you maintain your strength, flexibility and range of movement during the recovery period.