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June 13, 2006 > Learn About New Treatments for Hand, Wrist and Elbow Pain

Learn About New Treatments for Hand, Wrist and Elbow Pain

Washington Hospital Seminar Offers Tips for Living with Arthritis

Your hands, wrists and elbows are essential tools that enable you to perform everyday activities like eating, bathing and getting dressed. While we use them for work, play, and just about everything in between, we often take them for granted. Unfortunately, they can be a debilitating source of pain and dysfunction that can negatively impact your quality of life.

There are many causes of pain in the hands, wrist and elbow, including arthritis, trauma, and nerve damage. You can learn more about the latest treatments and surgical interventions at an upcoming seminar titled "Hand, Elbow, Wrist Problems and Living with Arthritis" scheduled for Tuesday, June 20, in the Conrad E. Anderson, MD Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, Fremont. To register, call (800) 963-7070. The seminar will be presented by Dr. Basil R. Besh, an orthopedic surgeon, and Dr. Sabiha Rasheed, a rheumatologist. 

"We use our hands for everything," Rasheed said. "You need to protect your hands and take care of them for the long-term."

The human hand is a very complex and delicate structure that works in conjunction with the wrist and forearm. How well the hand, wrist and elbow work depends on how well the related ligaments, tendons, muscles, joints and bones function. Arthritis, sports injuries, accidents, and overuse due to work-related activities like using the mouse and keyboard can all lead to problems that affect the hand, wrist and elbow.

Arthritis is an umbrella term for a group of more than 100 medical conditions. It can cause joint pain, stiffness, swelling and inflammation in the hands and wrist. The most prevalent form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease.

At the upcoming seminar, Rasheed will talk about some of the medications now available that can help reduce the pain and swelling caused by arthritis and even slow the progression. She will provide tips on living with arthritis such as soaking the hands in warm water every night and using paraffin wax.

Besh will cover some common hand, wrist and elbow problems and treatment options, including surgery. "It's important to start with the least invasive protocol. Only one out of five patients who visit my office will eventually need surgery," he says.

Inflammation is a Common Problem

Inflammation of the tendons (tendonitis) and inflammation of the joints (arthritis) are the most common problems affecting the hand, wrist and elbow.

The tendon connects muscle to bone. Tendons come in many shapes and sizes. Some are very small, like the ones that cause movement in your fingers, and some are larger, like the tendons in your elbow.

Tendonitis is usually due to overuse and repetitive movements, but can also be caused by age-related changes in the tendon. As people age, the tendons loose their elasticity and ability to glide as smoothly.
 "In this part of the country, with so many technology-related occupations, we see a lot of computer-related repetitive stress injuries," Besh said.

Treatment for tendonitis and other hand, wrist and elbow problems consists of rest, anti-inflammatory medications, splinting and physical therapy. If the condition does not get better, surgery may be needed.

Besh will talk about some of the more common forms of tendonitis, including trigger finger and tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis, as well as carpal tunnel syndrome, de Quervain's tenosynovitis, and cubital tunnel syndrome. He will provide information about treatment options, including the various medicines and surgical procedures available today.

"Sometimes surgery is the only way, but patients need to know about all their treatment options so they can make informed decisions," Besh said.

To register for the June 20 seminar, call Health Connection at (800) 963-7070. For more information about Washington Hospital and its programs and services, visit

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