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Should I see a Physio or a Hand Therapist?

Physiotherapist vs Hand Therapist?

We work alongside some amazing Physiotherapists at AHHT.

Physiotherapists work on the assessment and rehabilitation of conditions that affect the whole body.

They have amazing skills and anatomical knowledge for the whole body.


But this is where it gets tricky for them to treat the upper limb the same as a Hand Therapist


A Physiotherapist has to divide their learning time and opportunities around the whole body.

The Hand Therapist only has to study and learn the arm and hand.

The hand, wrist and arm have incredibly complex anatomy and their movements and functions are also super intense.

There is A LOT to learn!


The Hand Therapist is a Physio or Occupational Therapist who ONLY focuses on the arm and hand


This means the Hand Therapist has specialist knowledge of the way your arm or hand is supposed to move and function. They use this knowledge to assess and rehabilitate arm and hand conditions to help you get back to doing you.

Perhaps another way to look at it:

Would you take your motorbike to a car mechanic to fix?

No. Because although they have similar skills they are not specialists in motorbikes.

The Hand Therapist uses specific treatment techniques for the arm and hand that Physios don’t

Just like a motorbike mechanic has special skills to fix your bike; a Hand Therapist has many skills that a Physio does not use - such as custom splinting or applying casts to a broken bone.

The Hand Therapist also specialises in wound care - we even remove your stitches after your surgery.

Swelling can be a major complication of hand and arm conditions and the Hand Therapist is skilled in applying and prescribing compression bandaging and garments whereas your Physio does not do this.

Physios and Hand Therapists can work together to help you!


Sometimes the cause of your pain in your fingers is actually in your neck, back or shoulders.


Hand Therapists can find out if that is the case - but they are not skilled in treating necks or backs!

The Hand Therapist will then refer you onto your trusted Physio to get you back to what you love.

Likewise, we love helping our Physios to treat their clients whose problem occurs below the shoulder.

If you are not sure - feel free to give us a call and we will help you to figure out who is the best person to help you!


Remember: it is your therapists job to help you get back to doing you!



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