The majority of painful symptoms in the wrist, hand, and fingers are due to joint instability. Until the joint instability is resolved, symptoms will persist. Joint instability is caused because the ligaments that hold the joints together and allow for proper movement become overstretched or torn. This allows for destructive joint motions, just like a loose hinge on a cabinet leads to the wearing down of the cabinet door. Joint instability causes or aggravates every condition associated with hand and wrist pain.
Chronic pain in the wrists and hands is primarily due to the type of work people perform in a modern high-tech society. Pain is often aggravated by specific sports and workouts when the joint is not strong enough to handle the force. Additionally, smartphone syndrome and thumb pain have become increasingly common pain complaints. The repetitive motions of the upper extremities eventually wear out the ligamentous support of the wrists and thumbs. The end result is loose joints that cause pain and stiffness. Sudden injuries, such as to the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC), can also result in joint instability. Acute injuries are at high risk of becoming chronic conditions if traditional treatments like cortisone or ibuprofen applied when regenerative options would be a better choice.
Symptoms caused by Wrist Instability
- Crepitation with movement
- Loss of motion
- Loss of muscle strength
- Muscle spasms
- Numbiness in fingers
- Referral hand and finger pain
- Wrist pain
These symptoms can be signs of the following wrist, hand, and finger pain conditions caused by wrist, hand, and finger instability that we commonly treat with Prolotherapy.
Chronic Conditions caused by
Wrist, Hand, & Finger Instability
Finger and Thumb Osteoarthritis
and Joint Instability on Ultrasound
Finger Physical Exam with Ultrasound
to Check for Joint Instability
Prolotherapy Treatment for Wrist, Hand, & Finger Pain
Prolotherapy is the only treatment that addresses joint instability directly by attracting growth factors to repair the ligaments right where they attach to the bones. Prolotherapy injections start the healing process to cause the growth of ligaments that stabilize these joints. Once the ligaments return to normal strength, the chronic pain is eliminated, as well as the degenerative cascade that leads to arthritis. In more severe cases of tendon, ligament, and cartilage degeneration, Stem Cell Therapy or Platelet Rich Plasma make excellent Prolotherapy solutions.
When nerve entrapment is evident as is the case of carpal tunnel syndrome, Nerve Release and Regeneration Injection Therapy (NRRIT) is often the treatment of choice. Sometimes a combination of techniques is needed to turn the condition around and provide enough repair to the ligaments that the condition resolves and degenerative joint motions stop. NRRIT is used to free up the median nerve compression immediately while Prolotherapy works in the long term to stabilize the carpal bones from allowing the nerve to become compressed again. This is a much better alternative to carpal tunnel surgery, and any patient contemplating surgery should first be assessed by a specialist who practices comprehensive Prolotherapy to determine the ideal long-term treatment.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Resolved with Prolotherapy
One cause of median nerve compression is subluxation of the carpal bones from ligament injury. Prolotherapy decompresses the nerve by improving wrist joint instability and bony alignments.
In our clinics, the long-term effect is what we are after. We are not another “pain management” or pop-up stem cell clinic. Patients travel to us from around the world because they want “pain resolution” and know that we care about the long-term health of the joint. Understand that the typical treatments done in pain clinics (corticosteroid injections, ibuprofen, or other NSAID) are only covering up the pain temporarily. The pain is an indication of tissue damage that is degenerating the joint. Degeneration needs REGENERATION, not more degenerative treatments or a “wait and see” which only allows the joint to degenerate further. Then, when it comes to Prolotherapy, these regenerative treatments need to be done in a comprehensive manner, not just one or two injections of stem cells. The solutions (even stem cells) need to be injected to all of the ligament attachments to thoroughly treat the joint. This is the only real way to trigger the long-term healing and resolution of symptoms. Remember, tissue repair happens over weeks and months after treatment. Only receiving a shot of stem cells or a couple injections is not typically thorough enough to strengthen enough of the joint to give the ideal results.
Our Research on the use of Prolotherapy for Wrist Pain
In our retrospective observational study of patients with unresolved wrist pain noted improvements in many quality of life parameters after Hackett-Hemwall dextrose prolotherapy. The complete study and results can be read here: Hauser R, et al. Dextrose Prolotherapy for Unresolved Wrist Pain. Practical Pain Management. 2009;November/December:72-89.
Pain scale is 1-10 where 1 = no pain & 10 = unrelenting pain.
We get patient satisfaction results. 100% of patients in this study felt that Prolotherapy changed their life for the better and 100% have since recommended Prolotherapy to someone else.
Our Research on the use of Prolotherapy for Hand Pain
In our retrospective observational study, Hackett-Hemwall dextrose Prolotherapy treatments helped reduce the pain and stiffness in patients with unresolved hand and finger pain. The complete study and results can be read here: Hauser R, et al. A Retrospective Observational Study on Hackett-Hemwall Dextrose Prolotherapy for Unresolved Hand and Finger Pain at an Outpatient Charity Clinic in Rural Illinois. Journal of Prolotherapy. 2010;2(4):480-486.
Pain scale is 1-10 where 1 = no pain & 10 = unrelenting pain.
We get patient satisfaction results. 95% of patients in this study felt that Prolotherapy changed their life for the better and 100% have since recommended Prolotherapy to someone else.
Boutonniere Deformity of the Finger
A tear in the central slip causes the distal joint to be extended and the proximal joint to be flexed. A combination of splinting and Prolotherapy can reduce the deformity and improve hand function. See our paper listed below for more infromation about Boutonniere deformities.
Our other studies on regenerative treatment outcomes for wrist, hand, & finger pain
- Treatment of Basal Thumb Osteoarthritis: A Retrospective Study of Dextrose Prolotherapy Injections as an Alternative Treatment
- Stabilization of Rheumatoid Thumb Interphalangeal Joint Boutonniere Deformity and Severe Subluxation with Splinting and Prolotherapy: A Case Report
- A Systematic Review of Dextrose Prolotherapy for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain
- Evidence-Based Use of Dextrose Prolotherapy for Musculoskeletal Pain: A Scientific Literature Review
- Joint Instability Treatment with Prolotherapy
Patient Success Stories using Prolotherapy for Wrist, Hand, & Finger Pain
Bilateral Wrist/Hand Osteoarthritis
History of a fractured wrist, repeated wear-and-tear through work in the art industry, as well as walking large dogs eventually lead to osteoarthritis of CJ’s hands and wrists. Regular chiropractic treatments, NSAIDs, and braces only temporarily relieved her symptoms of pain, redness, swelling, numbness/tingling, poor range of motion, stiffness, and limited function. After 3 years of treatments, her chiropractor recommended Prolotherapy. After 6 Dextrose Prolotherapy treatments, CJ’s pain was gone and dexterity returned, enabling CJ to work and perform activities of daily living again, normally.
Left untreated, fractures and wear-and-tear injuries eventually lead to osteoarthritis. Though chiropractic treatments can successfully treat many other issues, only Prolotherapy is able to stimulate the repair cascade directly at the ligaments. Therefore, until the ligaments are repaired, abnormal joint motion and accelerated degeneration of joint continues.
DR was diagnosed with wrist tendonitis after a motor vehicle accident. She suffered from constant pain, both during activity and at rest. Her pain disturbed her ability to obtain quality sleep, altered grip strength, and kept her from playing tennis. Physical therapy, a hard brace, nor the use of a sleeve brought relief from the pain and swelling. A Workman’s Compensation physician recommended surgery as her only option, but DR declined. She had previously found relief from neck pain with Prolotherapy and chose to try it again. After 5 treatments of Dextrose and Neurofascial Prolotherapy (Lyftogt Perineural Injection Treatment) she reported fantastic results, experiencing little to no pain or swelling. Her improved functionality enabled her to do laundry, scrapbook, open jars, play tennis with her teenage daughter, and wear her wedding ring for the first time since the accident.
Prolotherapy treatments are not about pain “management” – but they are about relieving pain for the long-term and allowing patients to restore their normal lives. Even when surgery is the only option that has been offered through Network insurance, Workman’s Comp, or Medicare, it is not the ONLY option! Prolotherapy is often the better treatment to be rid of the problem once and for all.
Rock Climber with Wrist Pain
AD was a 29-year-old avid indoor/outdoor climber who developed pain in both wrists from overuse. He had been climbing 2 to 3 times each week for 6 years. Although his pain was not constant, it was limiting the ability to continue his active lifestyle. The only recommendation from his primary physician was to take NSAIDs, however, this was not the route AD wished to pursue. He consulted with one of our specialists and it was determined that he had suffered a TFCC injury in each wrist. The first 4 treatments of Prolotherapy did lead to a slow and steady improvement in both wrists but the addition of Platelet Rich Plasma for the final 2 treatments was needed to heighten the healing response. After his sixth treatment, AD was able to climb without pain including more difficult routes which previously left him in pain for days!
An athlete being treated for an injury to a primary joint used in their sport will typically need a few treatments. Often, starting with traditional dextrose Prolotherapy is appropriate to see if the patient will make improvements quickly using the basic solution. Most patients do not need to jump to cellular treatments right away. However, when it is called for, PRP is an excellent next step. One thing to note, just using a single injection or two of PRP would not likely have helped this patient because the wrist needs to be comprehensively treated, as there are many small bones in a sea of ligaments. Therefore, many ligament attachments should be treated at each visit to ensure a more long-term reparative effect.
Thumb Pain due to CMC and MCP Joint Instability
Philip had been treated successfully by the providers of Caring Medical for multiple injuries over the course of 8 years. So, when pain began after hyperextending his right thumb, he knew where to turn after his primary care physician told him that nothing could be done due to the degeneration of the joint. Philip experienced moderate thumb pain while gripping and lifting objects which had begun limiting his exercise routine. Upon physical exam in our office, the provider confirmed instability of the CMC and MCP joints and recommended a series of H3 Prolotherapy treatments using a traditional dextrose solution with added proliferants. Philip was advised to continue with normal activity, except for pushups. A brace was recommended during periods of activity for added stability. After his first treatment, Philip reported 50% pain relief in CMC joint and 25% pain relief in MCP joint. When he returned for his third treatment, the MCP joint pain was completely resolved and he was able to reduce time wearing the brace without any increased pain. During his fourth and final visit, Philip reported 99% pain relief in his thumb and was able to return to full activity.
When asked his favorite thing about Caring Medical, Philip replied, “That this treatment works, it’s not just a cover-up of pain but a healing process that cures your body and does not use drug medications. Not having to use drug medications to block the pain is something that really stands out and makes this treatment that much more worth it. This treatment uses your own body to heal itself and it actually works!”
Prolotherapy Resolves Fishing Trigger Finger
MW was a 65-year-old righthanded fisherman that had developed trigger finger of his right middle finger. Instead of the traditional recommendation of steroid injection, the hand specialist recommended trying surgery. Not wanting to undergo surgery, MW looked for other options. He was motivated to find a curative treatment because he was unable to close his fist and had lost grip strength. When he was seen by the specialist at Caring Medical, it was determined that he had joint instability along with the trigger finger. The Prolotherapist performed a steroid injection into the tendon for the trigger finger, but also performed H3 Prolotherapy for the joint instability. MW was instructed to wear a splint since steroids can weaken tendons and lead to rupture. After a few months, MW reported 100% relief in his symptoms. He was able to return to intensive fishing with his right hand without any pain or restriction. MW says that Caring Medical “saved his prized right hand” from unnecessary surgery and allowed him to continue his hobby as a “fishing fanatic.”
Yes, there is a place in medicine for steroid injections, though it should be much smaller than it is. It may also be only part of the treatment plan. Only doing a steroid injection for trigger finger without addressing the joint instability may not resolve the issue. Therefore, it is ideal to know when the rare instance that a steroid is, in fact, going to help a patient achieve long-term success, and when it needs to be paired with regenerative treatments as well. This, instead of using steroids as a primary means of pain management just turn off the pain signal temporarily, which is how most doctors use/overuse them.
More Information About Prolotherapy for Wrist, Hand, & Finger Pain
How well do you understand the cause of your wrist, hand, & finger pain?
Take the Joint Instability Quiz! This quiz covers how musculoskeletal pain develops and which important diagnosis is often missing when people are suffering from chronic pain.
Articles about Prolotherapy for Wrist, Hand, & Finger Pain
- Prolotherapy for hand osteoarthritis
- Non-Surgical Alternatives for Thumb Osteoarthritis
- De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis treatment – should we look at the ligaments of the wrist and thumb?
- Stenosing Tenosynovitis: Trigger finger treatment without surgery
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Non-surgical injections and nerve release treatments
- Snapping wrist – the extensor carpi ulnaris (ECU) tendon; the extensor pollicis brevis; and the distal radioulnar joint.
- Non-Surgical Alternatives for Thumb Osteoarthritis
- Non-Surgical Triangular fibrocartilage complex tear and distal radioulnar instability
- Non-surgical options for wrist osteoarthritis
- Prolotherapy for Ganglion Cysts
Videos about Prolotherapy for Wrist, Hand, & Finger Pain
Books about Prolotherapy for Wrist, Hand, & Finger Pain
Caring Medical: Utilizing dynamic testing to properly diagnose and identify the structures causing symptoms and degenerative conditions, and treating with comprehensive regenerative injection therapy, H3 Prolotherapy, and individualized joint rehabilitation protocols
You deserve the best possible results from your wrist, hand, & finger pain treatments. Let’s make this happen! Talk to our team about your case to find out if you are a good candidate.