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The use of x-ray imaging in hand physiotherapy

Medical X-rays are used for imaging tissues and internal structures of the human body. It is commonly utilized for disease diagnosis, determining the type and extent of fractures or pathologies, and post-op monitoring of the condition of the patient. In hand physiotherapy, x-rays are pertinent to determine the location and type of fracture to aid doctors and physiotherapists in curating a sound prognosis of healing and allow them to assess the healing process of the fracture.

For example, a common acute condition that requires hand physiotherapy and accounts for 60-70% of carpal bone fractures is the Scaphoid fracture. To elucidate, it is a fracture of the bone at the base of the thumb, located above the wrist, that causes swelling, restricts movement of the hand, and numbness in the affected area. Often, X-rays are done to locate the fracture, but it's crucial to note that the fracture site might not be visible in the initial X-ray. This is why orthopaedic specialists often require a second X-ray, typically two weeks after the injury, to accurately diagnose the condition.

During the follow-up X-ray, doctors will look for specific signs that indicate a scaphoid fracture. These signs may include a visible fracture line, a dark line in the scaphoid bone (indicating a disrupted blood supply), or signs of bone healing that suggest the fracture is older than initially suspected. Once diagnosed, appropriate treatment is determined, which primarily involves applying an arm cast. However, this immobilization may lead to the stiffening of the joints and loss of muscle strength. Although these effects gradually improve as the patient returns to using their wrist, the process is slow, and if incorrectly cared for, the patient may be at risk of further injuries. Hence, physiotherapy is strongly encouraged for patients with scaphoid fractures to properly facilitate their recovery. Some physiotherapy treatment options include manipulation, soft tissue treatment, and various exercise programs.

In essence, the use of X-ray imaging in hand physiotherapy plays a vital role in enhancing the overall treatment and recovery process for patients with hand fractures, such as Scaphoid fractures. This not only ensures accurate diagnoses and timely interventions but prevents the onset of complications.

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