Woman with wrist pain sitting in front of a computer, wondering reduce hand and wrist pain at work.

How to Reduce Hand and Wrist Pain at Work

An ounce of prevention goes a long way when it comes to hand and wrist pain associated with work. Repetitive use injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, a disorder that leads to pain and weakness in the hand and wrist, are more common in this technological age. People spend hours sitting at desks and using a keyboard and that takes its toll on these delicate joints. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics lists chronic hand and wrist pain as one common reason employees miss work. Find out what you can do to reduce hand and wrist pain at work.

What Causes Hand and Wrist Pain?

If you have long-term pain without a known injury, you may suffer from repetitive stress, arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. All three of these issues can relate to your job.  Any activity that causes you to move your wrist or hand repeatedly will eventually injure the connective tissue, nerves or joints. This is why working at a computer increases your risk of developing chronic pain. Everything from the way you position your hands over the keyboard to how your fingers strike the keys can lead to inflammation and pain.

How to Prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries?

It is the constant and repetitive movement that causes most work-related problems with the hands and wrists. Learning how to protect them is the key to preventing injury. Start by strengthening the structures of the wrists and hands. This is especially critical for women who might not get enough calcium in the diets. Talk to your doctor about taking a calcium supplement to ward off stress-related fractures. Discuss exercises that will build up the muscles around the joints, as well.
Other tips to reduce your risk include:

  • Pay attention to your typing technique when at the keyboard – Keep your wrists in a neutral position and avoid bending them to reach the keys. You can use an ergonomic keyboard or a wrist support device to position your hands properly.
  • Keep your fingernails short – Long fingernails interfere with the typing process and force your wrists to compensate. Even with the wrist support tools in place, you have to bend to hit the keys.
  • Take breaks often – This is good for you in many ways. Get up off the chair, walk around and shake your hands.

Take advantage of some of the ergonomic tools available like keyboards, chairs and mice. If you still have pain or anymore questions about reduce hand and wrist pain at work, talk to your doctor about wearing braces to provide additional support to your wrists and hands while at work.

Woman receiving electrode therapy.

Electrode Therapy: The History and Benefits

Can using electrodes help you deal with chronic pain? Electrical energy is a tool with many medical benefits including pain management. In 1856, a French neurologist discovered a method of using alternating current to trigger muscle contractions. Today, electrical muscle stimulation is an approved form of rehabilitation and pain management.

What is Electrode Therapy?

Electrode therapy, or more commonly referred to as electrotherapy, is exactly what it sounds like – the use of electric energy to mimic the nerve impulses that cause muscles to contract. The electrodes are attached to the skin around the affected area to work those muscles.
The use of electrode therapy often coincides with rehabilitation efforts and pain management. The electrical muscle stimulation provides pain relief because if forces contracted tissue to relax

What are the Benefits?

The benefits of electrode therapy extend beyond relaxing muscle tissue. This treatment option is used in combination with other rehabilitation efforts to improve flexibility and range of motion.

Chronic pain can limit how you move. If you hurt your shoulder, your natural inclination is to try not to move it. Unfortunately, the movement is a necessary part of the healing process. Without it, muscles tend to shrink up – a condition known as muscle atrophy.
With direct stimulation of the muscle, the tissue elongates and contracts without nerve involvement. The electrodes take the place of the nerves that normally cause the muscles to move. In a sense, they are exercising independently to increase strength and improve healing. This helps muscles recover faster than they would with only traditional physical therapy.

Electrode therapy also provides stress relief. Pain causes you to tense up, leading to more discomfort. If you have a back injury, the chronic pain can lead to neck tension and headaches. With electrode stimulation, the neck muscles relax like you have had a deep tissue massage. At the same time, the treatment loosens the connective tissue and reduces inflammation, making you more flexible. Blood rushes to the area to fuel the moving muscle and improve healing.

It is up to the doctor to decide if electrode therapy is the right option for you, but, generally speaking, anyone who suffers from chronic pain may see some benefit. If you are recovering from an injury or working to rehab a joint, then electrode therapy may promote faster healing while helping reduce the pain. If your problem is chronic, like frequent headaches, just the relaxing effect of the treatment will offer some relief.

Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help if you have anymore questions about electrode therapy

Elderly couple exercising with resistance bands, knowing how to stretch with resistance bands.

How to Stretch With Resistance Bands

Stretching is how you stay flexible no matter what your situation. Whether your back aches because you sit all day long or you are working to heal an injured joint. Stretching opens the muscle up to its full extent, increasing the circulation. Resistance bands are a practical choice for stretching exercises because they add tension to the move and are easily portable. Consider these four stretching exercises to learn how to stretch with resistance bands.

How to Handle Resistance Bands

Start by learning how to handle the resistance band. The bands come in different weights. Beginners will want to start with medium weight band. You can buy flat bands or tubes that come with handles on each end.
Start each stretch slowly to ensure you have control of the band to maximizing the toning and reduce the risk of injury. Pull on the band just enough to create tension.

Stretching the Chest Muscles

Sit on the floor cross-legged and grab one end of the band in each hand. Pull it taut over your head, but keep the band loose enough that you can pull down without it breaking. Stretch your arms out and then down to complete the stretch. You can do one set pulling down to the front of your chest and another going back behind your neck.

Side Stretch

Remain in the cross-legged position and grip the band with each hand. Place your left hand on the floor next to your body while you reach the right one over your head. The bicep of your right arm should be near your ear. Pull up with your right arm while activating the muscles on your left side to stretch them. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds and then switch sides.

Lower Back Stretch

Extend your legs out in front and wrap the band around your feet as you grip it with both hands. The band goes from one hand, around the arches of both feet to the other hand. Pull back on the bands as you stretch your lower back. Keep the abs tight to support your back. Hold for about 30 seconds and then return to start.

Hamstring Stretch

Lie back on the floor and wrap the band around just one foot. Lift your leg up towards the ceiling while keeping the other leg slightly bent on the floor. You may not get the active leg all the way up and that’s okay. Just raise it as much as you can comfortably and pull down on the band to increase the tension. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds then switch legs.

Stretching is your best option to warm up muscles and prevent injury. If you are recovering from an injury, ask your doctor for advice on the best stretches to manage your pain if you have anymore questions about how to stretch with resistance bands.

Young woman with shoulder pain

Hot vs. Cold: When Should You Use Each to Treat Pain

Should you ice that painful joint or put the heating pad on it? It’s a common question that comes up. Chances are you’ve tried both and gotten a certain amount of relief from each, but they offer different mechanical actions. The truth is either one will off a degree of initial comfort, but there are basic rules that help you decide what form of temperature therapy is right for each type of pain.

When to Use Cold Therapy

Cold treatment reduces inflammation or swelling. If you keep that in mind, then you get a sense of when ice is the best option for your pain. Inflammation occurs after an action, so if you just worked out and your back aches a bit – that is due to inflammation. The connective tissue and joint are swelling from the trauma of your workout.
Ice is also the standard initial treatment for an injury. When you twist your ankle, it swells up. Ice reduces that inflammation to aid in healing.

When to Use Hot Therapy

Heat, on the other hand, tends to loosen things up. Late at night after a long day on your feet, your back and hips might ache – this is when applying heat offers you the best chance of relief. When you feel stiff and sore, you want to consider sitting down with a heating pad and letting that warmth improve your circulation and enhance your range of motion.

Alternating Cold and Heat Treatments

Of course, there are times when you might alternative cold and heat to get pain relief. Let’s go back to that sprained ankle. Ice is part of the initial first aid you apply to a traumatic injury. Once the cold reduces the inflammation, you apply heat to enhance the circulation and aid in healing.

How about that sore back? Just after you exercise, the elements in your lower back will swell. This is a direct result of damage done during your workout. Unfortunately, that damage is a necessary part of strengthening muscle tissue. The trauma that comes from exercise forces the body to tear down that muscle and build it stronger to prevent further injury. Apply cold right away to that injury to reduce the inflammation. Later on in the day, you may feel stiff and achy. That is also a result of your workout, but it is not from inflammation.  You need to apply heat to promote healing of the damaged muscle.

Ultimately, it boils down to “acute” vs. “chronic” pain. You just finished physical therapy and your injured shoulder is swelling from the exercise. You just fell on your wrist or twisted your ankle. These are all acute injuries that benefit from ice. Chronic means it happens all the time. Your back always aches right before bed or your knees always hurt before it rains. Treat this pain with heat.