Getting a Grip on Hand and Wrist Pain
Repetitive motions and poor ergonomics can contribute to hand an wrist pain. Read about tips for helping you manage this kind of pain.
With all the time we spend typing and working at the computer these days, you may be having some hand and wrist pain. In this article we’ll give you some tips for how to handle this kind of pain.
Causes of Hand and Wrist Pain
Repetitive motions and poor ergonomics can contribute to pressure and inflammation on a nerve that runs through a tight space in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. The result can be numbness, tingling, weakness, and pain in the hand, wrist, and even into the forearm.
If you’re experiencing the warning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s important to look at what you are doing repetitively, says Terry Stein, MD, a practicing physician and a medical director for Blue Cross. Dr. Stein says the causes can include:
- Poor ergonomics
- Too much typing
- Not having well-supported wrists while typing
- Not setting the proper height of chairs, desks, and other equipment
An Occupational Therapist Can Help
Having an occupational therapist look at your workstation is an excellent step towards getting the upper hand on this kind of pain. An occupational therapist can review the ergonomics of your setup and make recommendations for improvements.
There’s usually someone in a larger organization who can help make a workstation ergonomically correct, Dr. Stein says. “I absolutely recommend that. It’s an easy, low-risk thing to start with.”
If your employer doesn’t have access to an occupational therapist, your local medical center probably has one on staff.
Other Things You Can Do
It’s important for you to take frequent breaks and give your hands a rest if you are feeling pain, Dr. Stein advises. “If you are doing something that is painful, it may only get worse until you address the problem,” he says. Other helpful steps include:
- Using splints
- Wearing braces at night
- Getting corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation
While surgery is available to relieve the pressure on the nerve, Dr. Stein says trying more conservative approaches first is appropriate. “Surgery may be an option for those who fail to improve with these other modalities.”
If you are having hand and wrist pain that does not improve with basic measures, it is a good idea to get checked out by a healthcare provider, Dr. Stein says. “The longer you put up with symptoms or pain, the longer it is going to take to get better.”