Textbooks to Tablets: How to Prevent Upper Body Pain in an Increasingly Digital Learning Environment
Our digital world is ever expanding, and one may find themselves required to spend more time using technology for work, learning, and leisure. If this applies to you or your family members, it is important to be aware of how we interact to the digital world to prevent injuries that can result from prolonged positions which compromise good posture and ergonomics, resulting in pain.
Gymnastics is a unique sport where athletes spend a large amount of time on their hands. Handstands, tumbling, rings, and bars require the athlete to place their entire body weight through the arms and into the hands. Other sports do not place these heavy demands on the upper extremity. When tumbling, the athlete puts not only their entire body weight through the hands but can have up to 16 times their body weight in force going across the wrist2. No wonder 80% of gymnasts will experience wrist pain at some point in their career!6 In a study comparing injuries in male and female collegiate gymnasts, men suffered more hand and wrist injuries than their female counterparts1. We will be taking a closer look at the types of hand and wrist injuries both male and female gymnasts may experience and how to treat or prevent these injuries.
Numbness and tingling in your hand can be described as “your hand falling asleep.” But what does this really mean? Tingling and numbness is a type of nerve pain that typically subsides with the limb’s movement. In this case, the pain is usually due to restricted blood flow. The tingling can feel uncomfortable and unpleasant, but it is only temporary. Sometimes people complain of waking up in the middle of the night with numbness or tingling in their hand or arm, they may not experience these symptoms during the day, or the symptoms are not as noticeable.
Tools and technologies can help complete our daily routines, but they are only as skillful as the user. In some instances, our bodies, specifically the hands, are the required tools, yet one might have physical limitations impeding performance and independence. Often, muscle weakness can be the main limiting factor for getting work done. To increase performance, improving one’s grip strength can be most beneficial.
In 2019, the CDC estimated that 2.4 million workers sustained work-related injuries. Work injuries carry a unique set of stress for the injured worker combining the recovery challenges with the unknown ability to return to work.
Many patients are prescribed physical or occupational therapy to address pain and loss of function associated with their injury. Often, the injured workers can fully recover and return to their prior physical ability. Yet achieving this goal only addresses one of the two concerns for the injured worker. After regaining function, the injured worker is often left wondering if they will be able to make a full return to work.
Completing an Occupational Therapy program for an upper extremity injury helps many individuals regain the skills and abilities to return to their jobs and daily activities. However, significant injuries will sometimes require additional time to improve endurance, strength, safety, and confidence to return to work. These select individuals may benefit from Work Conditioning, an individualized rehabilitation program created and overseen by a therapist and designed to help an injured worker cross the bridge between acute therapy and return to work.
De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis (Pronounced Deh-KWUHR-vanes ten-oh-sin-oh-VITE-us) is the formal name for a condition that has many other more common names such as “mother’s thumb,” “mommy wrist,” “washer woman’s syndrome,” and “gamer’s thumb.” This condition is often associated with repetitive hand, thumb, and wrist use. Fritz de Quervain named this condition in the early 1900s. He was a Swiss-born surgeon, who was also responsible for introducing iodized table salt to help prevent thyroid disease, called a goiter.
Earlier months in the year have come and gone, and the routines of the cold weather months may be changing. Increased daylight hours have allowed for more time outdoors, participating in leisure and work. As the events that consume our free time begin to change, the physical demands on our bodies, specifically our hands, ought to be thought about and considered to prevent injury.