Stuck at home with your computer - My Aching Hands!

08.17.2020

During this period of quarantine, many of us are experiencing a more intense relationship with our computers. Along with that increased keyboard time may come some common hand complaints: aching in the wrists or thumbs and numbness, tingling or coldness in the fingers. Let’s look at some common ways you might be aggravating your hands.

Leaning the weight of your head on your hand can stretch and put pressure on the carpal tunnel. This can cause achiness in the wrist and a sense of coldness in the fingers. Leaning on your elbow may cause your ring and small fingers to go numb. Likewise, leaning the weight of your hands on the table or even on a wrist rest, can cause pressure on the carpal tunnel and give you numbness in your fingers.

If we are not on our computers, we are probably on our phones. Our thumbs can get very sore from holding the phone and even more sore from using the thumb to type on your keyboard. The achiness in your thumb base can become intense, radiating up your forearm.

Here are some small changes you can make to protect your hands:

Try to use good posture: arms relaxed at your sides, elbows at 90 degrees or less and flat wrists that hover over the keyboard. Sometimes lowering the keyboard on a tray or on your lap can help.

If you can’t hover, at least pull the keyboard to the edge of the table so that your wrists are without pressure.

What can you do to alleviate some of the stress on your hands?

Here are some stretches to do. Take frequent pauses to stretch, get up and move around to get the blood flowing. (Not to the fridge!)

For your sore thumb, rest is best. Invest in a gadget to help hold your phone and use different fingers to key. You are also going to have to limit grabbing and gripping for a while. It would even be worth purchasing a thumb stabilizer. These can be found online or in drug stores.

Finally, if you have any other issues or concerns, we would be happy to see you in the office. Stay safe!

Jane M. Siegel, M.D.
Hand, Wrist & Elbow Orthopedic Specialist

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