Synergy Health Partners

What is Hand Therapy?

Hand therapy is a specialized area of rehabilitation that focuses on treating conditions and injuries affecting the hand, wrist, and arm. Hand therapy involves a range of interventions and techniques, including therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, splinting, wound care, sensory re-education, and desensitization therapy.

Common Conditions Treated with Hand Therapy

Through hand therapy, individuals can regain optimal hand and upper limb function, improve independence in daily activities, and enhance their overall quality of life. Hand therapists work closely with individuals, providing comprehensive care, support, and guidance throughout the rehabilitation process.

distal radius fracture

wrist tendonitis

tennis elbow

golfers elbow

Carpal tunnel syndrome

cubital tunnel syndrome

radial tunnel syndrome

thumb arthritis

swan neck deformity

boutonniere deformity

flexor and extensor tendon injuries

mallet finger

hand & wrist arthritis

hand and wrist trauma

humerus fracture

distal biceps repair

Hand Therapy Treatment Methods

Depending on your condition, symptoms, and functional goals, your occupational therapist will work with you to determine a hand rehabilitation treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. Here are some of the most common methods used in hand therapy:


Hand therapists prescribe specific exercises to improve strength, dexterity, range of motion, and function. Common exercises focus on stretching, coordination, gripping, pinching, and resistive exercises using putty or weights.


Heat, cold, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, lasers, etc., are used to reduce pain and swelling, improve blood flow, and facilitate healing.


Custom splints can mobilize, immobilize, support, or position the hand and wrist to allow healing, provide stability, reduce pain, or improve function. They are commonly used after injuries, surgeries, or for conditions like arthritis.

Soft Tissue Mobilization

Techniques like massage and myofascial release loosen muscles, tendons, and scar tissue to reduce tension, adhesion, pain, and facilitate movement.

Desensitization Techniques

Methods like graded exposure to textures, temperatures, and touch help regain sensation and retrain the hand after nerve injuries.

Neuromuscular Re-Education

Exercises focused on sensory input and motor output help regain control and fine motor skills after neurological hand injuries.

Functional Training

Patients relearn everyday hand tasks and skills through specialized training, adaptive equipment, and assistive devices.

What To Expect

Symptoms/Conditions Develop

The patient experiences an injury, trauma, or develops a hand-related condition, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, fractures, tendonitis, or arthritis. They may also undergo hand surgery for various reasons.

Medical Evaluation

The patient seeks medical evaluation and treatment from a physician, orthopedic surgeon, or other healthcare provider. Based on the evaluation, the patient may be referred to an occupational therapist (OT).

Initial OT Evaluation

The OT conducts an initial evaluation to assess the patient’s hand condition, functional limitations, goals, and medical history.

Developing A Treatment Plan

Based on the evaluation, the OT collaborates with the patient to establish treatment goals and develop a personalized treatment plan. The plan may include short-term and long-term goals for improving hand function, reducing pain, and enhancing daily activities.

Assess Functionality

The OT conducts a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s hand condition, including evaluating range of motion, strength, sensation, functional limitations, and any specific treatment needs.

Therapeutic Intervention

The patient starts attending hand therapy sessions where they receive various therapeutic interventions, such as therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, splinting, wound care, nerve gliding exercises, and modalities.

Functional Training

The patient engages in functional training exercises that replicate real-life activities and tasks relevant to their personal and professional life. This training can include tasks like dressing, grooming, cooking, writing, and using utensils.

Adaptive Strategies

The OT teaches the patient adaptive techniques and strategies to modify the way they perform tasks to accommodate their hand condition and prevent further strain.

Progress Monitoring

The OT monitors the patient’s progress regularly, adjusting the treatment plan as needed based on improvements and challenges.

Home Exercise Plan

The patient receives a customized home exercise program to continue progress outside of therapy sessions and maintain gains.