Do you type, use a smartphone or tablet, play video or computer games, knit, sew or use your hands for any kind of repetitive movements? Especially if you’ve been engaging in this activity for some time, you may notice aches or pain in your upper extremities, especially the hand, thumb, wrist and even forearm and elbow areas. This is common knowledge for many hobbyists and becoming increasingly prevalent in the workplace. Assembly work or other repetitive motion jobs, mostly blue-collar, have long been plagued with these kinds of injuries that are now making their way into white-collar settings. Once seen as a low risk for workplace-related injuries, desk work is proving to have it’s own hazards and is commonplace as more manual labor jobs are replaced by technical ones, often performed at a computer.1
There are several tasks you can incorporate these types of injuries. Here are a few suggestions for getting ahead of hand, wrist and forearm discomfort caused by computer work or other types of repetitive activities.
- Identify if your workplace has a department that handles ergonomics. See if they can provide an assessment of your current workstation setup and offer suggestions or provide new pieces of equipment that help your positioning and alignment.
- Rest affected areas regularly when possible. Take breaks throughout your workday from your repetitive tasks. If you work on the computer most of your day, one example of this would be to refrain from typing an email to an office mate when you can get up and walk to their desk to ask the question instead. Even small walks and taking time to stand has benefits for other parts of your body as well.
- Remove the repetitive activity entirely when possible. For example, you may take advantage of the speech-to-text feature on your phone for long texts or responses to emails rather than using your thumbs or fingers to type.
- Reduce the force behind your actions. Is there a way for you to type with a lighter touch instead of pushing each key down to the bottom? You may also want to loosen the grip on your mouse or game controller and push buttons lightly.
Responding quickly to the pain or discomfort can reduce recovery time significantly. Luckily, too, there are several options to alleviate the pain you’re already experiencing that don’t require surgery. Exercises for strengthening the hand, for example, have proven to be effective in reducing symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries.2 Many of these exercises can be performed on your own with little or no equipment after the onset of pain.
A physical therapist or personal trainer can help you discover stretches and strengthening exercises that address your specific needs. Book an appointment with a Live Your Life team member to discover how you can work toward reducing your upper extremity pain without surgery. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!
Wishing you good health & happiness,
Addie Kelzer, B.A.
Growing up as a fit and healthy kid, staying active was easy! It wasn’t until she moved to Minnesota to attend a college that Addie began to notice the ill effects of not prioritizing fitness and good nutrition. Her poor nutrition led to severe acne and an immediate 20-pound weight gain. After struggling to maintain a healthy lifestyle, her weight fluctuated over the next 5 years. She lost this weight three times and regained it twice before finding a permanent solution through educating herself on the topics.
Addie earned her Bachelor of Art’s degree from Hamline University then continued on to school for personal training and nutrition consulting at the National Personal Training Institute. These skills deeply impacted her own life and helped her build a career she is passionate about! Addie happily offers safe and effective personal training as a nationally certified NPTI – Advanced Certified Personal Trainer. Additionally, her skills include NPTI Nutrition Consultant and a background in Stott Pilates Matwork.
She asks her clients to learn and grow every month, so she strives to do the same. Her hobbies include biking, golfing, making and sending cards. She also enjoys cooking in batches and baking on occasion. She lies in her hammock and reads whenever possible.
¹Brody, Jane E. “Epidemic at the Computer: Hand and Arm Injuries.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 Mar. 1992, www.nytimes.com/1992/03/03/science/epidemic-at-the-computer-hand-and-arm-injuries.html.
²Ünver, Seher and Neriman Akyolcu. “The Effect of Hand Exercise on Reducing the Symptoms in Hemodialysis Patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome” Asian Journal of Neurosurgery vol. 13,1 (2018): 31-36.