It seems a decade of shorthand and typing has finally caught up with my writing hand.
Having suffered with stabbing pains and soreness in my thumb for four weeks, I finally relented and booked an appointment with my GP – only to be given the news that I was suffering from tendonitis, or De Quervain’s tenosynovitis to give it its official name.
Characterised by a swelling of the tendons used to straighten the thumb, causing pain at the wrist and base of the thumb (not to mention an unpleasant sensation of the tendon becoming ‘trapped’) it is effectively a form of repetitive strain injury.
Relatively little can be done in the way of treatment aside from painkillers, ice packs, and most importantly, rest – particularly from tasks such as typing and, er, writing.
With a month or so off work not exactly practical, I was keen to try and resolve the problem as swiftly as possible so began researching places in Helston that could offer further advice – and discovered Helston Physiotherapy Practice.
Based on the Water-ma-Trout industrial estate for the last four years, having initially operated from the home of founder and practice principal Becky Duncan, it not only offers treatments for ailments traditionally associated with physiotherapy – such as joint pain and sports related injuries – but also neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, strokes and Parkinson’s Disease.
It is the only practice in Cornwall with an NHS contract to provide functional electrical stimulation, working closely with consultants at the Royal Cornwall Hospital to support people with paralysis, and also offers the Saebo arm training programme, which to the untrained eye resembles a bionic hand that helps improve patients’ grasp.
The team has recently been joined by Mel Benyon, one of the few spinal cord specialists in the county.
I was seen by practice principal Becky, who began with a consultation about my activities in and out of work, before carrying out a physical assessment of my hand.
Through this she established that I had “hyper mobile” joints (meaning that my fingers, at least, were particularly flexible) and as a result were more susceptible to repetitive strain injuries.
After diagnosing a swelling of the tissue around the wrist and significant tightness of the tendon, which was causing the pain, she used ultrasound to help reduce the inflammation and then taped by hand to provide support to the joint, although further sessions will be needed.
Becky said: “It’s about assessing the way people move. We’re all individuals – it’s not one size fits all.”
The skill of the physiotherapist, she added, was determining not just why a person was getting pain, but also whether the ways they were moving could be improved to prevent further relapse.
“We want to treat you and then teach you about your body so it doesn’t happen again,” she said.