How to Beat Chronic Wrist and Hand Pain
Chronic wrist and hand pain is a reality of our sedentary lifestyle—we type on a phone and a keyboard all day long, putting our hands and wrists in positions that they weren’t meant to be in on a consistent basis.
Luckily, you don’t have to stop texting or working at a computer to beat these issues. By figuring out where the pain is coming from and how to manage it, you can enjoy all the modern pleasures of life without all the side effects.
Consider if any of these potential causes could be the reason for your chronic pain.
Arthritis—Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis and is often caused by normal wear and tear, such as typing every day or lifting heavy things. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder, and is less common.
Symptoms include pain in addition to joint stiffness and swelling.
Sprains and strains—This is the most common cause of chronic wrist or hand pain. If you’ve had a sprain or strain, and it didn’t heal properly, you could be dealing with issues further down the road. If you just recently sprained or strained your wrist, you may not have realized, and could be dealing with a fresh wound that needs healing.
Symptoms include pain in addition to muscle weakness, trouble moving your hand or wrist or muscle spasms.
Carpal tunnel—This is often caused by an underlying condition that creates swelling and therefore puts pressure on your wrist and the median nerve—which is the pain that you feel.
Symptoms include pain in addition to swelling and numbness or tingling in your thumb and first three fingers of your hand.
While this is not an exhaustive list of potential causes, it’s a good place to start.
Beating the Pain
Once you know the problem, you can go about fixing it. A doctor should confirm all three of these potential causes before you make any decisions about fixing the problem. However, in the mean time, you can work to reduce the pain in a variety of ways.
- To reduce the swelling symptoms, lay a cool cloth or ice pack on your wrist and/or hand for 10 to 15 minutes. To minimize pain after exercise, rest a warm towel on your wrist and/or hand for 15 minutes before you start.
- Rest your hands and wrists, especially if you type at a computer all day. Aim for a break at least once every hour. If the pain isn’t heightened by light stretching, do that as well. Rotate your wrists and thumbs gently while stretching out your fingers
- Invest in an ergonomic keyboard. This ensures that your hands and wrists are sitting in a natural position, which will help reduce the strain that is likely causing some of the pain you’re experiencing.
Consult with your doctor if any of the symptoms above match with the pain that you’re feeling. They will provide you with better ways to manage the pain while healing the underlying issue. Luckily, being aware of the problem is the first step, so you are well on your way to reducing your wrist and hand pain for good.