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Wrists and Computers07 June 2004
I am not a doctor. Wrist pain is common among office workers who spend most of the work day in front of the keyboard. It creeps up on you slowly, getting steadily worse over many months or years. The longer left untreated, the worse the pain gets until you reach a point where you are unable to work and need surgery. This page contains some tips about what you can do to avoid these issues.
For the last year I have had a throbing in my wrists that has steadily gotten worse. I have tended to ignore it and avoid doing anything about it. I made some token efforts - tried to reduce the amount of time I spent in front of a PC, using an ergonomic keyboard - but the pain only steadily got worse. I was aware of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome but the idea that I might no longer be able to use a computer kept me from seeking help.
Eventually I decided to take action and sort out the issue. This was triggered by both increasing pain and by meeting a colleague who 'officially' had CTS. She explained that she had had surgery and was now regularly massaging her wrists with cream. It was depressing as it seemed even surgery didnt really solve the problem.
I got the name of my friend's doctor and after a few calls ended up with an appointment with another doctor who seemed to be an expert in orthopaedics.
I scheduled an appointmet with him and finally had my consultation.
I was happy to learn that I did not have CTS. Although it was only matter of time if I did not take preventitive steps. CTS can be distinguished by numbness and 'pins and needles' in the fingers. Simple pain in the wrists can be attributed to tendinitis - an inflammation of the tendons running down the arm, through the wrist into the hand. Tendons connect your muscles to the bone and can become inflammed from overuse.
Apparently, CTS occurs after prolonged inflammation that is so severe that the nerve is affected and can no longer operate correctly.
The solution was to tackle the inflammation and prevent re-occurance. Firstly, my doctor prescribed me two weeks of Aleve (Containing Ibuprofen) Ibuprofene is an anti-inflammatory and helps the tendon recover.
Secondly, he taught me some exercises to strengthen my wrists. By making the wrists stronger they are able to tolerate the repetitive typing motions. These exercises consisted of rolling a tube in my hands with my elbows poised on my knees as shown in this video (1877k file). I started with five seconds in each direction and increased the duration by five seconds each day until I reached 1 minute in each direction. I performed the exercise 2-3 times a day.
So far I have been maintaining this regime for 3 weeks and it has had a significent effect. The pain has definitely diminished although it is still faintly there. I am interested to see what will happen over the next few weeks.
UpdateSeveral months have passed since I wrote the above and my wrists are feeling much better although still sore at times. In combination with the above I found several other things that helped a lot.
RestingI think maybe the single biggest improvement came with the use of 'Workrave.' It's a simple timer program that alerts you to take short 'microbreaks' (10-20 seconds) every five minutes or so, and longer rest breaks every hour. It also includes some great exercise routines. I'm currently using with 20 seconds break every 5 mins and 10mins every hour.
Replies: 2 Comments
Hi Dave and web surfers,
For the past few years I've had RSI (repetative syndrome injury) problems. I've also been operated on one hand for Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. I didn't want to do the other till I was sure it worked. Which it didn't.
I've been keeping the problems at bay by doing stretches and building up strength. Putting up a pull up bar in my hall way had very good results. I can reach the bar by standing on my toes which is also very good for just stretching. I also use spring padded Vs (I don't know what there called but their very common) for my hands.
I also have an old omnikey northgate keyboard (got at a thrift store for a dollar fifty) which has a great light touch. Using a mushy keyboard does my hands in quick.
Roland said @ 01/03/2005 01:46 AM EST
Get one of these to save your wrists. I have just started using mine
they rock. They ain't cheap and they are a bit of a pain to carry
around but they
do work which is the important part.
Simon said @ 06/21/2004 05:26 AM EST