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 manage or even prevent work-related hand and wrist problems.
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, talk to your doctor about wearing braces to provide additional support to your wrists and hands while at work.