Both employers and workers benefit when a workplace is ergonomically sound. By investing in ergonomic solutions, businesses can reduce the number of work-related injuries and improve employee productivity. Sometimes, however, even with the best ergonomic setup, workers can still experience injuries.
One of the most common types of workplace injuries is a wrist injury. Wrist injuries can be caused by repetitive wrist motions, awkward positions, or direct trauma, all of which are possibilities in many work environments.
At J, we're familiar with all of the causes of wrist pain that can happen on the job. Our team is highly trained and experienced in treating from , and we're passionate about educating our patients on how to prevent these injuries in the first place.
Here are the top 5 work-related causes of hand and wrist pain, along with the wrist injury treatment available for these wrist conditions and tips on how to prevent them:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
One of the most common types of musculoskeletal injuries in general, carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the hand, becomes compressed by surrounding tissues that have been irritated or inflamed, putting pressure on the nerve.
The carpal tunnel is a small space in the wrist through which this nerve and several tendons pass. When the median nerve is compressed, it can cause tingling, numbness, and weakness in the hand and wrist.
Developing carpal tunnel syndrome is often the result of repetitive tasks of the wrist and hand, and wrist factors can include typing or using a mouse. It can also be caused by direct trauma to the wrist, such as a fall.
To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, it's important to take breaks often if you're doing a task that requires repetitive hand and wrist motions. If possible, switch hands or alternate between tasks every few minutes. Be sure to also practice good ergonomic form, keeping your wrists in a neutral position and avoiding excessive pressure on the median nerve.
If you are experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, the first step is to see your doctor for a diagnosis. From there, a variety of treatment options are available to ease wrist pain, including a wrist splint, physical therapy, and in some severe cases, carpal tunnel syndrome surgery.
Another common cause of chronic wrist pain, wrist tendinitis is the inflammation of the tendons that connect the wrist to the hand. These tendons are responsible for moving the fingers and thumb, and this soft tissue can become irritated or inflamed, causing pain in the wrist and hand.
Like carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist tendinitis is often caused by repetitive movements of the wrist, particularly when those motions are done with force. It can also be caused by direct trauma to the wrist, such as a fall.
Preventing tendinitis is similar to preventing carpal tunnel syndrome: take frequent breaks, switch tasks often, and practice good ergonomic form. If you notice any pain or discomfort in your wrist's connective tissue, stop the activity that's causing it and rest your wrist for a few days.
If you're experiencing pain due to wrist tendinitis, there are several wrist tendonitis treatment options available:
- Short-Term Relief: Rest, ice, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Physical Therapist: Physical therapy may also be recommended to improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles and tendons around the wrist.
- Wrist Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve wrist pain by releasing the tension on the tendons.
Wrist exercises can also help to prevent and treat wrist tendinitis by strengthening the muscles and tendons around the wrist. If you'd like to know more about specific exercises that can help relieve pain, the team at Jefferson Orthopedic Clinic is happy to offer guidance.
Wrist Sprain or Strain
Wrist sprains and strains are common injuries that can be caused by a fall or direct blow to the wrist. These injuries occur when the ligaments or tendons in the wrist are stretched or torn, causing wrist pain.
Symptoms of a wrist sprain include:
- Sharp pain
On the other hand, symptoms of a wrist strain may also include muscle weakness or tenderness.
Treating wrist pain from a sprain or strain typically includes rest, application of an ice pack, and elevation of the injured wrist. More severe injuries may require wrist splints or a cast to immobilize the wrist and allow it to heal properly. Physical therapy may also be recommended to help regain range of motion and strength in the wrist.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair a torn ligament or tendon.
In order to prevent strains and sprains at the workplace, be sure to take precautions to avoid slips, trips, and falls. These types of work-related injuries are extremely common, but they're also extremely avoidable!
A wrist fracture is a break in one or more of the bones in the wrist. This kind of broken bone typically occurs after a fall on an outstretched hand, and such a fracture can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of a wrist fracture include:
- Tenderness to touch
In order to give you a diagnosis, your doctor will likely order an X-ray of the wrist, which can reveal bone fractures. If the fracture is severe, you may need a CT scan to get a more detailed look.
Treatment for a fracture typically includes immobilization of the wrist in a splint or cast and pain medication. Minor fractures may only require a splint or cast to immobilize the bone while it heals. However, more severe fractures may require surgery to insert pins, plates, or screws to hold the bone in place
Preventing wrist fractures at work can be tricky, as they're often caused by falls. However, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk, such as paying attention to your surroundings and being careful when working from heights.
Visit a Wrist & Hand Specialist Near You
When it comes to getting a proper diagnosis, especially in the case of a work-related injury, it's best to trust the experts. Orthopedic surgeons like the team at Jefferson Orthopedic Clinic have the experience and knowledge necessary to perform a physical examination, diagnose wrist pain and put their professional medical advice toward developing a treatment plan that's right for you.
At , our team of orthopedic surgeons is experienced in diagnosing and treating a wide range of wrist injuries. If you're experiencing wrist pain, we encourage you to contact us today for a consultation. We'll work with you to develop a treatment plan that's tailored to your individual needs.