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Protect your hands from a repetitive strain injury

Your hands feature a complex configuration of bones, tendons and muscles. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, there are also three different types of bones in your hands, which include the metacarpal bones, phalanges and carpal bones.

Since the bones, tendons and muscles in your hands are so complex, they are more prone to repetitive stress injuries. Common repetitive stress injuries include tendonitis, bursitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, and they can all be painful and debilitating.

Tips for prevention

There are several steps you can take to prevent repetitive stress injuries in your hands:

  • Make changes to your workspace to promote comfort and proper posture.
  • Sit in a chair that provides enough support for your lower back and helps you keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep your computer screen approximately one arm’s length away from you and position it at eye level.
  • When you type or use other tools, keep your elbows and wrists straight and in line with each other.
  • Decrease the amount of time you spend with your wrist in a flexed position, especially when performing repetitive tasks or tasks that require strong grasping.
  • Before and after you work, perform strength and conditioning activities to make your hands stronger.

You should also try to take frequent breaks during your workday. During these breaks, flex your wrists and wiggle your fingers to reduce strain.

Symptoms to watch out for

The most common symptom of a repetitive stress injury in your hands is persistent pain. You may also experience tingling, numbness, stiffness, swelling and sensitivity to cold and heat, especially after long periods of typing or working with your hands. There may be discomfort at night when sleeping.

You should not wait to see medical help until the pain and functional loss in your hands becomes severe. Even mild discomfort warrants modifying your work habits to prevent additional injury.

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