Our hands are one of the most complex and valuable structures of our body and are very susceptible to suffer chronic or overuse injuries and cause us pain. We use our hands throughout our lives in each of our daily activities, from brushing our teeth to driving a car or cooking our food, which is why we must learn how to take care of them properly. Did you know that hand injury is the most common since they constitute 28% of all injuries in our musculoskeletal system and half of these injuries are chronic, meaning they have a long evolution?
Why do overuse injuries or chronic injuries occur?
The vast majority of chronic injuries that occur in our hands are produced by what we call “repetitive movements,” that is, continuous and sustained movements that we do for a certain time, usually prolonged, for example when we write messages on our cell phone or we use the mouse of our computer.
The repetitive movements are responsible for producing pain, muscle fatigue and in the long term will trigger injuries such as nerve compression or inflammation of our tendons and some surrounding structures such as occurs in carpal tunnel syndrome, De Quervain’s tenosynovitis and even in processes of osteoarthritis or wear of the cartilage of a joint.
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How can overuse injuries be prevented?
Fortunately, there are some steps we can take to avoid these injuries and take better care of our hands. Here are some tips to achieve this:
- Avoid doing the same activity for extended periods of time. Instead, take small breaks every 30 minutes.
- Try alternating different tasks and always choose those that do not need wrist movement.
- Avoid repetitive movements with your fingers or wrists for more than 30 seconds (this includes typing on your mobile phone)
- Perform your tasks avoiding uncomfortable positions of your body and always keep your hands aligned with your forearms.
- If you work a lot of time in front of a computer, we recommend you to purchase an ergonomic mouse or a mousepad with an ergonomic pad. In addition, we advise being careful with the position of your hands while using the mouse or keyboard, remember that the forearms and hands should be kept in alignment.
- Avoid applying excessive force with your hands, especially flexing or bending your wrist, try to use your whole body to help you carry a weight, move an object or perform any task with your hands.
- After performing activities for a long time or if you feel tired, perform some stretches and movements of your hands. You can also perform a massage in the area where you perceive more fatigue.
Below, we show you a general automation for the wrist and hand, very useful in recovery and rehabilitation of all types of injury.
- Take care of your posture. Believe it or not, all the structures of our body are closely related and an improper posture of your back or some other part of your body can lead to a bad posture of your arms and hands, and vice versa.
We hope these tips will help you take better care of your hands and prevent injuries. Remember that if you feel pain, fatigue, weakness or you just have a question about the subject, you can consult your physiotherapist of confidence, we assure you that he will always be willing to help you.