Friday 18 October 2019

Dear Dr Nina: 'Can working every day at a computer exacerbate my wrist injury?'

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Nina Byrnes

Q I have a sore wrist that doesn't seem to be getting any better. I work at a computer all day. Could it be repetitive strain injury?

A Injury to any part of the wrist or its structures can lead to wrist pain. Poor posture or repeated small movements of the hand, wrist and arm make repetitive strain more likely. Pain that persists over a prolonged period of time is most likely due to chronic inflammation or repetitive strain. Carpal tunnel syndrome commonly causes pain radiating from the palm of the hand to the middle three fingers. The pain may be described as tingling or burning.

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Ganglions are harmless fluid-filled cysts that most commonly appear over the base of the wrist. They can cause pain if they become large or press on other structures of the wrist. Repetitive use of the wrist or overstretching of the ligament hinders healing, leading to a vicious cycle of inflammation and pain. De Quervain's Tenosynovitis is a chronic tendon strain that causes pain at the base of the thumb. Pain is typically worse when turning the wrist, grabbing things or making a fist.

With chronic wrist pain, it is important to start by assessing your posture and work station. Most employers can arrange an ergonomic assessment. Using a specifically designed mouse, sitting appropriately or using a standing desk and taking frequent breaks may all help.

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