Nonsurgical Treatment

Many, if not most, hand and arm conditions can be treated without surgery. This page gives you some details of nonsurgical (nonoperative) methods used to treat hand and arm problems. There are many issues to consider when trying to decide if nonoperative management is best.


Sometimes the best treatment for a painful condition is to stop or change the way you use the hand or injured part. This may unfortunately mean stopping or slowing down activities that you enjoy or are passionate about. Treatment may require a limitation on certain activities at work designed to protect the hand or arm.


The most commonly prescribed medicine for painful conditions of the hand and arm is a class of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These may include Tylenol (acetaminophen), Alleve (naproxen sodium), and Advil (ibuprofen). Tylenol is processed by the liver and the other medicines processed by the kidneys primarily. If you have known liver or kidney problems you may not be able to take these medicines safely. Additionally, they can be hard on your stomach and in the worst cases, may cause stomach upset or even bleeding. If you begin taking them and they upset your stomach or cause any other new symptoms, stop the medicine right away and call your doctor.

Prescription strength topical medicines are now available that may be safer for your stomach and more effective for small areas of pain. These medicines are absorbed directly through the skin.


Soaks in warm or comfortably hot water two or three times daily can give some relief from arthritis or tendonitis pain in the hands or wrists.


When painful joints and tendons are prevented from moving, this usually helps the pain and can let the body start healing injured tissues. Splints can either be custom made or purchased “off the shelf” at a store or doctor’s office. Either way, the splint should be comfortable, snug, and not too tight.


A well-trained therapist can be an important part of recovery from painful conditions or injury. Dr. Henley may prescribe one or several visits with a therapist during your treatment.


Steroid, or cortisone, injections involve injecting small amounts of powerful anti-inflammatory medicine mixed with local anesthetic into a joint or tendon lining.

Click here for more information on injections.

Remember, common things happen commonly and rare things rarely occur. Know what the possible complications might be, but don’t make them more serious than they actually are. Know yourself and act accordingly.