Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Txt Messaging Creates Hand, Wrist and Arm Ailments
By Julianne Lessard OTR/L, CHT, Springfield, MA
In this age of handheld electronics like cell phones, the iPod® and the PSP (PlayStation®Portable), it is easy to see how a new crop of hand injuries has developed. Age is not a factor here – from the 10-year-olds playing video games to the teenagers text messaging up to the young business professional with the Blackberry® – no one is safe.
As devices get smaller and more compact, the technology improves. Some phones come with a full keyboard – no wonder there has to be a special language, it would be too hard to type a full sentence!
In 2005 the American Society of Hand Therapists (www.ASHT.org) issued a National Consumer Alert. “Handheld electronics may require prolonged grips, repetitive motion on small buttons and awkward wrist movements. This combination can lead to hand, wrist and arm ailments such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Tendinitis,” said ASHT President Donna Breger Stanton, MA,OTR/L,CHT FAOTA. ( 2005 ).
The following are some guidelines from ASHT for healthier use of handheld devices:
• Use a neutral grip when holding the device. A neutral grip is when the wrist is straight, not bent in either direction (not strong or weak). It will allow for wrist motion in a plane where more motion is available in the wrist.
• Take a break every hour or switch to another activity. Overuse of repetitive motions, such as pressing buttons, can cause tendinitis of the elbow or lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (tendon or nerve irritation).
• If possible, place pillows in your lap and rest arms on pillows. This will allow you to keep your head in a more upright position and therefore decrease neck strain. The pillows will help support the arms so they do not have to be held up in the air.
• Sit in an appropriate chair that allows you to comfortably put your feet on the floor and also provides good back support.
• Switch hands frequently. This will allow the one hand to rest and reduce fatigue.
• Frequently focus on a distant object (away from the screen) to help reduce eye fatigue.
The best advice for patients is to tell them to listen to their bodies. No matter what they’re doing, if their arms and hands become sore, uncomfortable, achy or numb, then change their routine. Add tendon gliding exercises throughout their day. Simple changes can make a big difference in preventing tendinitis.
When treating patients with tendinitis, try using GT6 with a sweeping motion over the TM joint and J stroke to the hypothenar and thenar group. Also, use GT3 with strumming and a J stroke to the thenar and along the volar metacarpal heads. After only a few visits, the muscles are more pliable and have improved endurance and function. Stretching exercises will follow to re-align the fibers.
Tendon Gliding Exercises
These exercises glide the tendons gently through the carpal tunnel to minimize microscopic adhesions, reduce congestion and improve lubrication in the tendons.
Hook fist – touch your fingers to the top of your palm. The large knuckles should be pulled back as much as possible.
Full fist – touch your fingers to the middle of your palm. All three finger joints should be bent.
Straight fist – touch your fingers to the bottom of your palm. The tips of the fingers should be straight.
Thumb flexion – Start with your thumb pulled back from your palm as if you are hitch-hiking, then move your thumb across your palm and try to touch the tip of the thumb to the bottom of the small finger.
To learn more about the Graston technique to treat hand or wrist pain in NYC visit Dr. Steven Shoshany's website at www.drshoshany.com
Graston tchnique, Cold laser terapy, Kinesio taping