Wrist pain is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem in the workplace. Offices, retail spaces, factories and any other job sites where repetitive wrist motions are necessary can easily cause wrist pain. Many people see this as a mere hazard of the job. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. You can reduce the severity of your existing wrist pain and help permanent wrist conditions or injuries by following these simple tips.
Practice Good “Strain Management” at Your Computer
One of the biggest contributors to wrist pain is typing on the computer, and typing is a huge part of many jobs. Practicing proper Strain Management while typing can greatly reduce the strain on your wrists.
- Sit upright with your feet firmly placed flat on the floor.
- Position your screen so it is at eye level. If you can’t move the monitor well, such as in situations where you’re using a laptop, angle the screen so that it is easily viewed from straight ahead.
- Change the height of your chair, or position of your keyboard, to allow you to position your hands on top of the keyboard in a comfortable manner. Your hands should be slightly below your elbows, and your shoulders should be down and relaxed. Your wrists should be flat in this position. Don’t rest your arms on the arm rests of your chair.
- Make sure that your hands are also pointed straight. Don’t splay your hands out to one side or another.
- Your mouse should be placed right next to your keyboard. This will allow you to grab your mouse without moving your hand a lot. Additionally, make sure the mouse is kept at the same level as the keyboard. When grabbing the mouse, your wrists should still be flat and your hands should remain slightly below elbow level.
- Don’t prop your wrist up on wrist supports for either the keyboard or mousepad, since they usually only apply prolonged pressure to the nerves in the wrist, which actually may cause pain and create problems rather than prevent them.
- Take micro breaks with stretches to upper back, neck and wrists.
Use Ergonomic Mice and Keyboards or Alternative Typing and Cursor Controls
Ergonomic mice and keyboards are available to help guide your hands into more comfortable positions when you’re using the computer. These options are usually very affordable, and they’re great for desk and computer setups that make alterations to your position difficult.
Likewise, you can use alternatives to traditional keyboards and mice. For example, instead of using a mouse, you can try using the option called “MouseKeys,” which comes pre-installed on all Windows and Mac computers. It’s an option that allows you to manipulate your cursor through your numeric keypad. As an alternative to typing, you can utilize speech-to-text programs.
Give Your Wrists a Break
Repetitive-motion injuries (RMIs) are the most common workplace-related wrist injury. While they are usually caused by typing and computer work, they are developed by any occupation that requires constant, repetitive wrist motion. To help avoid developing an RMI and keep some strain off of your wrist, give them a break every 20 to 30 minutes. Just a minute or two of rest can work wonders for your wrists.
In addition to complete rest, try doing something else that doesn’t require repetitive wrist movements for a few minutes. For example, take a break from doing paperwork to clean up your desk.
Trim Your Fingernails
Long fingernails may force you to put your hands into an awkward position when typing. It’s best to keep your nails trimmed to a length where they will not noticeably interfere with a healthy typing position.
Take it Easy
Don’t use too much force when hitting keys or manipulating other devices. In addition, don’t snap your hand or wrist in any direction. This sudden jolt of force puts undue strain on the nerves and muscles in your wrist and could result in damage. Use soft and fluid motions whenever possible.
Wear Compression Sleeves for Your Wrist
Compression gear is some of the most effective and popular forms of chronic muscle pain relief on the market today. You can pick up compression sleeves for your wrists at a fairly moderate price at most retail stores and online markets.
Utilize Wrist Exercises and Stretches
One of the best ways to decrease pain in any part of your body is by stretching it out and exercising it regularly. Limber and strong muscles help alleviate various types of pain. Start with a simple wrist stretch.
- Extend your fingers back as much as you can and then make a tight fist. Return to a relaxed position and repeat on each hand eight times.
- The prayer stretch is another good option. Put your hands together as if you were praying. Gently push one hand back halfway and keep applying light pressure for about 15 seconds. Relax your hand back to its original position and repeat with the other hand.
- There’s also a stretch called the palm press. Simply place the palm of your hand on the edge of your desk or a table and gently push your palm in for about five seconds. Repeat this with the other hand.
Know When it’s Time to Seek Medical Assistance
Wrist pain is common and usually is not a sign of major problems, but pain is your body is an indicator that something is wrong in that area, and medical assistance may be needed to fix it. If the pain is particularly severe, you experience it during any of the wrist stretches or exercises or it doesn’t let up, seek a doctor’s advice as soon as possible. They can accurately assess your pain and provide you with the medications or specialized therapy that you may need to get your wrist back to good working order. Ignoring persistent pain could result in irreversible damage, limited wrist mobility and chronic problems.
Developing wrist pain at work and trying to cope with it on the job is becoming increasingly common, but these tips will help you relieve some of your pain and make the work day much easier. However, it is very important to always remember to speak with your doctor if your wrist pain is becoming a growing concern. Dealing with regular wrist pain throughout the workday may be a chore, but severe wrist issues could prevent you from working at all. Only a doctor will be able to properly diagnose and treat any severe wrist problems that you may be experiencing.