Raising children is rewarding. It is also a lot of work. Parents and caretakers don’t always pay attention to how they are using their hands or arms for everyday tasks involved in childcare. The focus of attention is most often on taking care of the child’s needs, not the proper way to lift or position their body. Repeating tasks in poor positions will result in overuse injuries. If you are a caretaker for a young child and are experiencing hand discomfort, here are some signs of overuse and what to do about it!
You’re in the middle of a good video game. Your team needs you to cover the east arena. But, ouch! Your hands are getting pwn’d! Gaming for hours at a time can cause serious hand or wrist pain. Before you give up your gaming dreams, try these suggestions to ease and prevent the pain.
Ice. If your hand feels hot and swollen, rest and apply ice. Wrap a bag of ice in cloth, and place over the painful area for 15-20 minutes. Ice helps dull pain and reduce swelling.
Rest. Don’t underestimate time disconnected. Your fingers perform forceful, repetitive motions when manipulating buttons and analog sticks. Decrease the strain on your tendons and nerves by taking time away from the controller. Take a five minute break every thirty minutes.
from NBC News
Whether it’s a shooting pain or a dull ache, wrist and shoulder discomfort is a common complaint among my clients.
Pain in these areas can present itself in a variety of ways: In a plank position, you may feel a pulling on your wrists or tightness in your shoulders. While lifting dumbbells, you may feel a tingling in your wrists, or hear a clicking or popping sound in your shoulders. Or maybe during a push-up you feel a twinge in your shoulder with every rep. These are just a few examples of the type of pain that can creep up when we are putting strain on the joints.
According to Dr. Stephen O’Connell, chairman at Eisenhower Desert Orthopedic Surgery and director of Hand and Wrist Surgery, approximately 25 percent of all athletic injuries involve the wrist and hand. “The human hand consists of 29 bones, 29 joints, 123 ligaments, 34 muscles and 48 nerves. Combine this fact with an active lifestyle and it’s easy to understand why fractures of the wrist and hand bones are relatively common,” he says. Fractures make up a smaller percentage of athletic injuries; “more ubiquitous are problems we attribute to overuse, which typically involve tendons and ligaments,” Dr. O’Connell explains.
We all know the health benefits of regular exercise. Many fitness workouts involve putting pressure on your wrists. You may have noticed some discomfort while lifting weights or during yoga poses that require you to put weight on your hands. Here are some tips to make sure you are not straining your wrists while staying active.
- Tip #1: Keep your wrists flexible. Tight wrists put extra strain on surrounding ligaments, muscles, and joints. Make sure your wrists can move comfortably in all the motions you will use during your workout. If an exercise requires the wrist to bend 90 degrees (as in a push-up, see photo above), gently stretch your wrists back so they can move into the position with ease before adding your body weight.
- Tip #2: Maintain your strength. Strong wrists are more stable during weight lifting and weight-bearing activities. A strong grip allows you to hold weights more securely during intense exercises. Stress balls and spring grippers can be used to strengthen your grip. To help prevent wrist injuries and wrist pain, strengthen the muscles in your forearms using light resistance bands or small weights to resist wrist motions.
- Tip #3: Use your wrists in the most stable position. Keep your hand and forearm in a straight alignment during exercises. Improper wrist position puts strain on the small ligaments. If your exercise program requires putting weight through an outstretched hand (as in a plank pose), add stability at the base of your wrist by slightly arching your hand.
Hand surgeon Mark Yuhas, MD answers your questions about ulnar-sided wrist pain.
What does it mean to have “ulnar-sided” wrist pain?
Pain on the ulnar side of the wrist refers to pain in the region of the wrist on the “pinky side” of the wrist joint. The structures on the pinky side of the wrist make a complex interaction with bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons. They allow us to grip, twist the forearm and wrist, and move the wrist forward (flexion) and backward (extension). In the wrist, injury or wearing down of these structures may lead to pain or instability.
What are some causes of ulnar-sided wrist pain?
In a relatively small area on the ulnar side of the wrist, there are many different structures. The main structures that cause pain in this part of the wrist are ligaments (soft tissue that connects bone to bone), tendons (soft tissue that connects bone to muscle), bone, or cartilage (allow joints to move smoothly). Also on this side of the wrist is the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) which is a group of soft tissue structures that work together.
Have you been experiencing pain in your wrist during day-to-day activities? Wrist pain may be attributed to many things, as the wrist is a complex network of tendons, ligaments, bones, vessels, and cartilage in and around the joints.
A common location of wrist pain is on the small finger side of the wrist, as highlighted in the image above. Pain in this area is referred to as ulnar sided wrist pain because it is on the same side of the wrist as the ulna bone. This area has a large collection of ligaments and cartilage that form a complex structure called the Triangular FibroCartilage Complex, TFCC for short. Pain here can greatly interfere with and limit day-to-day activities. So what should you look for?
What causes ulnar-sided wrist pain?
Acute injuries such as falling on your hand and/or a twisting injury while gripping can cause pain on this side of your wrist. Another culprit for such wrist pain can be repetitive stress from continued gripping and/or weight bearing. Sports such as tennis, baseball and gymnastics are examples of activities where these types of recurring injuries most often happen.
Dr. Mark Yuhas answers your questions about Kienbock’s Disease:
What is Kienbock’s Disease?
Kienbock’s Disease, also known as avascular necrosis of the lunate, is a disease that can result in pain and stiffness in the wrist. The lunate is one of eight small bones in the wrist that give the wrist its complex and unique motion. “Avascular necrosis” is a lack of blood supply to the bone, which results in bone death. Blood supply is important to all bones to grow, heal, and provide structure and support to the body. Without blood supply, the lunate may not provide the same support and structure needed for proper wrist function.
What is the cause of Kienbock’s Disease? Can it be prevented?
There are several theories about the cause of Kienbock’s Disease, but a single cause has not been identified. Multiple variables are thought to be involved, including a history of wrist trauma. Other contributing factors include variations in anatomy such as the position of the forearm bones at the wrist, the shape of the lunate, and the pattern of blood supply to the lunate. Most of these factors are not able to be controlled by the patient.
There is no way that we know to prevent Kienbock’s Disease. However, it is important to identify this problem as soon as possible in order to prevent progression of the disease which can lead to wrist arthritis. This ultimately can cause pain, stiffness, and decreased function in the wrist.