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Scars and areas of skin can become hypersensitive following a trauma or operation. Hypersensitivity means that you can experience exaggerated pain. Desensitisation therapy can be completed once the wound has healed and the scar has become established to try and decrease the sensitivity in the affected area. Desensitisation therapy involves retraining the nerves in the sensitive area and the brain to respond normally again to external stimuli. This can be a way of restoring normal pain responses so that less pain signals enter and leave the brain.
Massage the area using non-perfumed cream, massage in a circular movement applying pressure. When the scar is new start by applying gentle pressure as the new skin is fragile.
Tap the affected area on a table top, start with light pressure and gradually building up.
Expose the affected area to different textures e.g. dry rice, lentils, fine sandpaper and cotton wool.
• Extreme temperatures
If the scar area is hypersensitive to extreme hot or cold temperatures it is advised to avoid this where possible. It is important not to rely on the affected area to check temperatures as this will not be accurate. Gloves can be worn to protect affected areas from extreme cold temperatures.
Enclosed is a desensitisation pack for your own personal use as directed by your hand therapist.
Instructions on using your Desensitisation Pack
• Within your pack you will find various items of different textures. We suggest you start with softer textures and work your way through each texture to increase tolerance of the rougher textures.
• As well as textures we also recommend trying different stimuli over the sensitive area.
• Use the texture/stimuli on the unaffected hand around the same area to be aware and remember how this should feel on the sensitive area.
• Start on the edge of the affected area and work inwards. Look at the texture or movement during application as this will activate your memory of normal feeling.
• The key to desensitising is to ‘tune into’ what you know the sensation should feel like rather than focusing on the pain. As each texture or stimuli is tolerated move onto the next one.
• Enclosed is a diary sheet to keep a record of how desensitisation is working for you.
• It is recommended to complete the desensitisation exercises every day. Completing this 3-4 times daily for about 5-10minutes at various times throughout the day will help to build up tolerance levels.
• It is important that you are free from distractions when completing the desensitisation exercises.
If you have any problems with the above information or you are worried about your hand please do not hesitate to contact the Hand Therapy Department on 01908 995411 or speak with your hand therapist at your next appointment.