Hand and Wrist Injury Prevention— Prevention and Causes
Repetitive hand movements, poor posture, and excessive strain, all can cause hand and wrist musculoskeletal injuries. Using a few preventive measures, these injuries can be avoided very easily.
Musculoskeletal Hand And Wrist Injury Prevention-Prevent Hand And Wrist MSI-MSD.
Musculoskeletal disorders, which are also referred to as repetitive motion injuries are caused by excessive force, repetition of stressful movements, or inadequate posture. These types of musculoskeletal injuries affect the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of different parts of the body, producing a variety of symptoms, particularly pain, swelling, and numbness.
Hand and wrist musculoskeletal injuries comprise a heterogeneous group of conditions, including tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, hand/arm vibration syndrome, and various other conditions. Some of these conditions have well-defined signs and symptoms, while others result in less well-defined signs only, such as pain, numbness, discomfort, and tingling.
How common are Hand and Wrist Musculoskeletal Injuries?
Hand and wrist musculoskeletal injuries are fairly common in the general population. Various studies report that 5 to 10 percent of the adult population experience some degree of strain and discomfort that interferes with their day to day activities. The prevalence among working populations, particularly among dentists, musicians, sportspersons, and other professionals, the prevalence of hand and wrist injuries is as high as 20 to 40 percent.
What Are Common Hand and Wrist Musculoskeletal Injuries?
From osteoarthritis that results in the joint stiffness and pain to inflammation of the tendon sheaths and carpal tunnel syndrome, there is a wide range of problems that can affect the hand and wrist. However, the three most common conditions that have a high prevalence among the working populations include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Hand/wrist tendonitis
- Hand-Arm vibration syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome — The condition gets its name from the eight bones in the wrist that form a tunnel like structure. Carpal tunnel syndrome produces characteristic symptoms of numbness or tingling in thumb, index, and middle fingers, as well as weakness of the hand muscles, which reduces your ability to grip objects.
Hand/Wrist Tendonitis — Tendonitis refers to tendon injuries that are accompanied by inflammation. Repetitive movements and consistent stress may result in the inflammation of the tendons that are used to straighten the thumb (De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis) and ring finger (Trigger finger). Symptoms of tendonitis include pain, redness, and inflammation of the affected area.
Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome — Caused by prolonged exposure of hands to vibration, hand-arm vibration syndrome is a disabling condition that produces the symptoms of tingling and numbness, loss of strength in hands, and blanching of the fingers.
What Causes Hand and Wrist Musculoskeletal Injuries?
Unlike other hand injuries, musculoskeletal injuries are not an outcome of a single event, but are the result of cumulative exposure to a number of risk factors, including:
- Repetitiveness and pace of work
- Force of movements
- Monotonous tasks
- Jobs that require maintaining a certain work posture for a long time
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome — Carpal tunnel syndrome is often caused by work-related activities, such as typing, dental examination, playing a musical instrument, and other repetitive movements of hands. Put simply, the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome increases if a job places heavy demands of the risk. However, some cases of carpal tunnel syndrome may be related to arthritis of the wrist, thyroid conditions, and pregnancy.
Hand/Wrist Tendonitis — Repetitive or prolonged activities that place strain on hand and wrist tendons may lead to inflammation of the affected tendons. Individuals who take part in sports like gymnastics, tennis, or golf, as well as those who do manual work like carpentry, painting, bricklaying, or use computers for long hours are more likely to develop tendonitis.
Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome — As the name implies, hand-arm vibration syndrome is caused by excessive use of hand-held vibrating tools, such as chainsaws and drills. It is estimated that 1 in 10 people who use or work with vibrating machines develop hand-arm vibration syndrome. However, the duration of onset of the condition varies depending on the exposure to the vibration and the degree of vibration.
How to Prevent Hand and Wrist Musculoskeletal Injuries?
The prevention of hand and wrist musculoskeletal injuries begins with the recognition of risk factors and hazards. From poor posture to inadequate use of hand-held tools, most hand and wrist injuries are caused by modifiable risk factors, which can be easily eliminated by improving workplace practices.
Using the following precautionary measures, hand and wrist musculoskeletal injuries resulting from excessive use of computers, machinery, and poor posture can be easily prevented.
- Position supplies and equipment within easy reach. Lay out workstations in such a manner that individuals do
not have to reach above the shoulder to grab an object. For example, do not place overhead storage units behind computer screens.
- Provide ergonomic chair and ensure that the chair is adjusted at a proper height.
Use of Computers
- Adjust computer monitors in such a way that the top line of the screen is slightly below eye level with the user sitting in an upright position.
- Ensure that the computer screen is positioned 18 to 30 inches from the user.
- Place keyboard right in front of the user and ensure that it is placed at an appropriate height and angle.
- Encourage individuals to take breaks. This is important to prevent the musculoskeletal injuries resulting from
sitting or standing in a particular posture for a long time.
- Encourage job rotation. Move workers between different tasks that engage different muscle groups.
- Consider mechanizing the jobs that require forceful movements of hands or wrists.
- Keep hands in a neutral position to prevent hand and wrist tendonitis.
A disabling musculoskeletal injury of hand or wrist can leave a dramatic impact on the quality of life of the affected individual, as well as their ability to perform day to day tasks in a seamless manner. However, by adopting some simple and effective preventive measures, the risk of developing a musculoskeletal injury can be reduced significantly. Pay attention to your posture and your work practices to identify the hazards and eliminate them before they affect your health.
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